On Monday, the FTC will be holding a workshop on cross-device tracking: how and why the advertising and marketing industries are using emerging technologies to track individual users across platforms and devices.
The Future of Privacy Forum is releasing a helpful new report to understanding these technologies, entitled Cross Device: Understanding the State of State Management, based on revisions to its FTC Comments filed in October.
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 this report, 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 all comments and feedback. The full report is available to read here.