FTC Workshop to Focus on Cross-Device Tracking

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a workshop this fall to examine the privacy issues around marketers tracking consumers’ activities on mobile devices.

Cookies are difficult to track across multiple devices, so the industry has adopted alternative methods, such as having users log in to use sites and services from different devices. But consumers are often unaware that they’re being tracked in the first place.

Focusing on smartphones, tablets, and wearables, the FTC aims to understand different kinds of cross-device tracking and what kind of information companies gain by doing it. Other issues the commission will explore pertain to consumers’ potential benefits, privacy and security risks, and how they can have greater control over tracking. The FTC also poses the question, do 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,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “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.”

The FTC is soliciting comments from the public, which will be accepted up until one month prior to the workshop. Free and open to the public, the workshop will held on November 16 in the FTC’s Constitution Center offices in Washington, D.C.

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