The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted on workshop regarding this issue back in November 2015. In January 2017, the FTC issued a report to follow up the workshop. In this report, the FTC defines what cross-device tracking is and acknowledges the benefits to marketers saying how it is, particularly useful and valuable to advertisers. In addition to highlighting the benefits, the FTC created four recommendations that should be followed by any entity that is using multi-touch marketing. Failure to follow the recommendations will be in violation of FTC Act.
Transparency, meaning that all entities using cross-device tracking should fully disclose their abilities to consumers. They should provide meaningful information as to whether or not consumers would want to share have this data be collected by companies. Another aspect of transparency mentioned by the FTC was that companies should make truthful claims of the data categories that are collected. For example, data categories could be anything from email addresses and or usernames, these categories are especially important because can include a user's full names. Even hashed emails can be used to re-identify users in some cases. Therefore, it is important to disclose this information to the consumer.
Companies must offer consumers a choice as to how their cross-device activity will be tracked and once chosen it must be respected. This section also states that customers are free to use sort of opt-out tool as they please and that companies may not try and track customers who use these tools. In one case, Turn, an online advertising company continued to target consumers through multi-device tracking despite the consumer’s choice of being opted out.
3) Sensitive Data
The FTC recommends that cross-device tracking should not acquire any sort of sensitive data. This can include health information, finances, children’s information and geolocation information. Unless there is “affirmative express consent” (FTC report) by the consumer all entities must refrain from collecting and sharing this information.
The FTC Act concludes with an emphasis on high security from the data collected from cross device tracking. This is of course required so that there are no incidents of unauthorized/unexpected uses of data. FTC states that companies should only keep necessary
Many believed that monitoring activity across devices would be a real privacy concern. However, the FTC was quick in understanding and addressing the issue to ensure that companies knew how the data should be used and for the general public to understand that at the end of the day they have control over how data is collected and is the type of data that is collected. Google states that consumer privacy a high priority saying that, “only aggregated anonymous data is used” in calculations.