On Friday, October 16, the Future of Privacy Forum filed comments with the FTC in advance of the FTC’s Cross Device Workshop on Nov. 16, 2015. Jules Polonetsky and Stacey Gray have prepared a report, Cross-Device: Understanding the State of State Management, based on revisions to FPF’s comments filed with the FTC on October 16th, that aims to describe how and why the advertising and marketing industries are using emerging technologies to track individual users across platforms and devices.
In the first decades of the Internet, the predominant method of state management–the ability to remember a unique user over time–was the “cookie.” However, because of how cookies operate, via the web browser placing a data file onto a user’s hard drive, this model is becoming increasingly ineffective at tracking user behavior across different browsers and devices. The fact that modern users are now accessing online content and resources through a broadening spectrum of devices–e.g. laptop, smartphone, tablet, watch, wearable fitness tracker, television, and other internet-connected home appliances–is creating a real challenge for advertisers and marketers who seek to holistically analyze consumer behavior. In these comments, we explain the challenges and some of the emerging technological solutions, each of which presents nuanced differences in privacy benefits and concerns.
FPF will be continuing our work in this area, and we welcome any comments or reactions. The full paper is available to read here.