Making tracks? FTC announces workshop on cross-device tracking

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The desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone and wireless wearable. Perhaps the only device we used yesterday that wasn’t connected to the internet was the crockpot. And it may know more than it’s telling.

The FTC first considered how businesses combine and exchange consumer information for marketing purposes in 2001. We continued throughout that decade with our usual trifecta: policy research, law enforcement, and education. The hot topic now is cross-device tracking – how companies track consumers’ activities across different devices for various purposes, including advertising and marketing. That’s the subject of an FTC workshop on November 16, 2015, at the FTC’s Constitution Center offices, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington, D.C.  The event is free and open to the public.

To help us consider the consumer protection implications, we’re asking for your feedback on a series of questions:

  • What’s the state of the art?  How are companies tracking consumers across different devices?
  • What are the pros and cons for consumers and advertisers?
  • What does the privacy and security landscape look like?
  • How can companies be more transparent about what they’re doing?
  • What can be done to give consumers more control?
  • How do existing industry self-regulatory programs apply?

To help us set the agenda, please send your comments by October 16, 2015.



When I visit a website, they record my IP address and other personal information and tell the owner of the website without my knowledge and consent. It has to be clearly stated on the website to me before my IP address/personal information is captured. I understand that my clicking habits on a company's web-pages I navigate through could be detrimental to its business but that needs to be tracked anonymously. When I window shop outside of a store, they do not know who I am, why should a web site! IP address is like a person's name. I am asked about my name before I tell that to a total stranger. I consider my IP address is my internet name and I expect the same respect for my internet name as my human name. Thanks for the workshop.

No internet Crockpot? [link removed]

Per our commenting policy, the link was removed. But reader WiFi Crockpot was kind enough to let us know that there IS a connected slow cooker that can be used with or without the optional app. Tech innovation benefits consumers in so many ways, although I still cherish my avocado-and-harvest-gold model. (Thanks, Mom.)

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