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OPLIN 4cast #465: Cookies are stale

Posted in 4cast

privacy keyOn Monday last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a hearing in Washington on cross-device tracking. Simply put, cross-device tracking is a relatively new method marketers are using to track your online activities across all your devices. It is rapidly replacing the use of cookies, which can only track a user’s activity on a single device. The FTC is getting involved because cross-device tracking is currently less transparent than cookie tracking. In other words, you may not know when it’s happening to you, raising privacy concerns. Marketers insist that cookies are not good enough anymore.

  • Legal tips on cross-device tracking (Luxury Daily | Ronald R. Camhi)  “Without cross-device tracking, marketers face a number of challenges in their marketing strategies. Multiple devices simply hinder a marketer’s ability to understand a consumer’s habits, which can be a problem for accurate targeting by marketers and their advertising agencies. Even more difficult, Internet browsers and applications operate differently, making it challenging to track users as they move from one device to the next, such as desktop computers to smartphones. Historically, HTTP cookies were stored in Web browsers on desktop and laptop computers. However, cookies can only track activity on a single device, and often do not work in applications.”
  • FTC scrutinizes cross-device tracking, possible privacy issues (InformationWeek | Thomas Claburn)  “Any Internet user who has been presented with irrelevant product recommendations based on a family member’s online activities on a shared device has experienced the issue from the other side of the mirror. That lack of clarity has led advertisers to combine deterministic methods of tracking (e.g. account login) with probabilistic methods (e.g. browser fingerprinting) and tracking data supplied by ISPs in an effort to maximize the effectiveness of their marketing. It has also led to the development of audio beacons.”
  • Re: Comments for November 2015 workshop on cross-device tracking [pdf] (Center for Democracy & Technology)  “Compared to probabilistic tracking through browser fingerprinting, the use of audio beacons is a more accurate way to track users across devices. The industry leader of crossdevice tracking using audio beacons is SilverPush. When a user encounters a SilverPush advertiser on the web, the advertiser drops a cookie on the computer while also playing an
    ultrasonic audio through the use of the speakers on the computer or device. The inaudible code is recognized and received on the other smart device by the software development kit installed on it.”
  • Cross-device tracking creates new level of privacy concerns, FTC says (Advertising Age | Kate Kaye)  “The Digital Advertising Alliance, the industry group behind the Ad Choices icon regime offering consumers information and opt-outs, prepared for Monday’s FTC discussion by working over the past six months on extending its principles to ‘cross-app data.’ It suggested in updated guidelines that both third parties and companies collecting data on their own consumers provide a ‘clear, meaningful, and prominent link to a disclosure that either links to the industry developed Web site(s) or choice mechanism that provides control consistent with this guidance or that individually lists Third Parties engaged in the collection of Multi-Site or Cross-App Data through its Web site or application.’”

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