FTC Privacy Roundtable Produces Shark Frenzy
Consumer protection head, David Vladeck, of the FTC, stated that the commission is poised to pose restraints on online advertisers who ignore consumer requests to avoid online advertising.
Vladeck is prepared to examine the practices that "undermine the tools that consumers can use to opt out of behavioral advertising," he said stated at the privacy roundtable. Law enforcement actions were slated to be announced later this year on the issue.
To date, it is not known which companies are being held up for inspection, but one there is talk that there are certain companies that are considered suspect. Advertisers who use Flash cookies to navigate around the consumer wish to not become targets, may become targets themselves.
The issue of Flash advertising is not new to the FTC. Chris Hoofnagle, from Berkely Law said that some companies brag that they utilized Flash cookies to behaviorally target consumers because consumers aren't savvy enough to delete the tracking from their computer systems. It appears the Flash cookies are stored in a secret sweet spot, separate from HTTP cookies, and the consumers are never the wiser.
Some companies use Flash to their advantage and the obvious disadvantage of the consumers, according to Eric Goldman, director of High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. He states, that consumers don't understand the technology, but the advertisers do, and there is a definite "gap crated between what technology can do and what consumers want."
Chris Conley, from ACLU of Northern California, extolled an example of the potential consequences of the new privacy settings, using Facebook. He reported that two students were taken out of Facebook per the new privacy settings. The students were LGBT fans, and signed up on the gay supporters page of Facebook. The students had not "come out" and were subsequently "outed" by the fact that the site now classified all pages as "publicly available information," which published their private profile pages.
The director of public policy for Facebook, Tim Sparapani stated that the information on Facebook pages was always intended to be public, because the LGBTs page had posted the names of fans. Although this is true, anyone would agree that the difference between being named as a fan on a site sporting 19,000 other members, and being listed as LGBT on a users own profile page - is miles and miles apart.