FTC Report Exposes Depth of Data Broker Info on Consumers

The Federal Trade Commission released a report urging Congress to require data brokers to be more transparent. Data brokers collect information on nearly all U.S consumers, typically without their knowledge, and create profiles based on online purchases, public records, and online tracking cookies. The FTC recommends creating one Internet site where each company explains their purpose and method of data collection and gives consumers a chance to opt out. Continue reading FTC Report Exposes Depth of Data Broker Info on Consumers

Expect an Emphasis on Privacy and Security at SXSW Festival

The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival kicks off in Austin, Texas today. The interactive portion of the conference, now in its 21st year, has grown to hundreds of sessions. Privacy, security, wearable tech, the Internet of Things and 3D printing are expected to be hot topics. On Monday, the show will host a conversation between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (via videoconference) and Christopher Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, is also scheduled to speak. Continue reading Expect an Emphasis on Privacy and Security at SXSW Festival

Tech Giants Plan to Track Data, Eliminate Need for Cookies

In the past, cookies — tiny pieces of code used by marketers to track online activity — were essential to advertising companies collecting user information. However, Google, Microsoft and Apple have recently announced that they plan to develop new ways to control this valuable data without the use of cookies. This change could shift the balance of power in the global digital advertising realm, and cause stress to some ad technology companies. Continue reading Tech Giants Plan to Track Data, Eliminate Need for Cookies

Startups Create Advanced Tracking of Users Across Devices

Smartphones can collect massive amounts of personal information, such as where users go, what they buy, and when they go to sleep. But current Web browser tracking software has become less effective for ads and cannot follow users across their devices. Based on the shift toward mobile, tech and advertising companies are looking into new ways to track consumers on their tablets and phones, while targeting them with specialized ads across all devices. Continue reading Startups Create Advanced Tracking of Users Across Devices

Google May Implement Anonymous Identifier to Replace Cookies

Google may change the way that online browsing activity is tracked by developing an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID. This identifier would essentially replace third-party cookies to track browsing information, which would then be used for marketing purposes. The identifier would be sent to advertisers and ad networks that agree to certain guidelines, while providing users with greater privacy and control over how they browse the Internet. Continue reading Google May Implement Anonymous Identifier to Replace Cookies

Music Service Spotify Responds to Use of Tracking Cookie

  • Researchers at UC Berkeley have found that digital music service Spotify is using a cache cookie method with ETags that still tracks when a user has ‘Private Browsing Mode’ enabled.
  • According to Digital Music News, the cookie technology “cannot be deleted, still tracks if the user blocks cookies, and even operates in browser stealth mode. In fact, if you try to delete this thing, the cookie dynamically regenerates.”
  • The cookie is powered by analytics platform Kissmetrics, which Digital Music News explains was also used by Hulu and others.
  • Spotify is reacting quickly, trying to head off a “Cookiegate” incident. “We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” explained a Spotify spokeswoman. “As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of Kissmetrics whilst the situation is investigated.”