The Federal Trade Commission has scheduled a November 16 workshop to consider the privacy issues related to cross-device tracking, where companies follow a consumer for advertising and marketing purposes from their laptop to smartphone to wearable device, for example.
As the number of consumer devices increases, advertisers have explored alternate ways to reach them with targeted advertising techniques.
Since consumers are often unaware of or cannot control the cross-tracking, participants at the workshop will discuss the data security and privacy implications of the practice.
In preparation for the workshop, the FTC has asked for public comment on a variety of issues.
Specifically, it asks what are the different types of cross-device tracking, how do they work, and what are they used for? The agency would also like to hear about the types of information and benefits that companies gain from using cross-device technologies, as well as the benefits that consumers derive from such technologies.
It also asks what are the privacy and security risks associated with the use of these technologies, and how can companies make their tracking more transparent, and provide consumers with greater control?
Finally, the agency wondered if current industry self-regulatory programs apply to different cross-device tracking techniques.
“More consumers are connecting with the internet in different ways, and industry has responded by coming up with additional tools to track their behavior,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a press release about the workshop. “With the advent of new tracking methods, though, it’s important to ensure that consumers’ privacy remains protected as businesses seek to target them across multiple devices.”
To learn more about the workshop, click here.
Why it matters: Workshops held by the agency signal the FTC’s interest in particular issues such as “big data” or native advertising, and the potential for enhanced enforcement efforts or a push for possible regulation of an industry.