Building on the FTC’s continued push into mobile issues and privacy, which it reinforced at the 2015 IAPP Global Summit in D.C. two weeks ago, the Federal Trade Commission today announced an upcoming workshop to explore the issues raised by cross device tracking – using browsers or apps to visit sites across different devices. As the FTC notes, the:
“Industry has turned to alternate techniques to track consumers across their devices. One method is ‘deterministic’ tracking, in which a publisher or platform requires the consumer to sign in to access its service. This allows the company to link the consumer’s various devices to a single account. Another method involves the collection of information such as device type, operating system, fonts, and IP address to create a digital fingerprint to link a user to different devices. Such ‘probabilistic’ tracking is generally invisible to consumers and, unlike tracking through cookies, the consumer has no ability to control it. Accordingly, this practice raises a number of privacy concerns and questions.”
In response the FTC will host a public workshop discussion on Monday, November 16, 2015 that will explore:
- What the different types of cross device tracking are, how do they work, and what they are used for?
- What types of information and benefits do companies gain from using these technologies?
- What benefits do consumers derive from the use of these technologies?
- What are the privacy and security risks associated with the use of these technologies?
- How can companies make their tracking more transparent and give consumers greater control over it?
- Do current industry self-regulatory programs apply to different cross device tracking techniques?
The challenges posed to companies looking to improve their online marketing ability by taking advantage of cross device marketing are increasingly complex and the FTC’s examination will be interesting to watch. We’ll report back from the workshop later this year.