The FTC’s cross-device tracking workshop on Monday focused on the benefits and challenges of cross-device tracking. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez emphasized that regardless of the specific technology employed, companies should continue working to address issues of transparency, notice, and choice in this area. She also highlighted the self-regulatory efforts of the advertising industry on cross-device tracking, including the Digital Advertising Alliance (“DAA”) and the Network Advertising Initiative (“NAI”), both of which were represented on workshop panels.
The first panel, moderated by FTC Chief Technologist Ashkan Soltani, provided a technological perspective on cross-device tracking. Panelists addressed the benefits of cross-device tracking to consumers, content providers, and advertisers, as well as the primary technical risks and techniques to avoid them. The second panel, moderated by FTC attorney Megan Cox, provided a policy perspective on cross-device tracking. Panelists discussed the need for increased consumer transparency and control over cross-device tracking, in addition to steps the advertising industry is already taking in this regard. The DAA’s cross-tracking device guidance, the release of which coincided with the workshop, was also addressed by the panelists.
Maneesha Mithal, the Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, summarized the “five main takeaways” from the workshop as follows: (1) the benefits of cross-device tracking, including maintaining state, frequency capping, and seamless user experiences across devices; (2) the need to provide greater transparency, choices, and education for consumers; (3) the need to consider the consumer experience; (4) that there is room for industry innovation in this space; and (5) that companies should be mindful of their representations in this space and adhere to those representations. The public comment period closes on December 16, 2015.