Who is following me : tracking the trackers

08 November 2012 - A Workshop on Baku,Azerbaijan


Interest in online tracking as a policy issue spiked with the release of the Preliminary Federal Trade Commission Staff Report in December 2010 entitled Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change – A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers calling for a “do not track” mechanism, the launch of the W3C Tracking Protection WG and the recent entry into force of the European “Cookie Directive”. However, the actual and potential observation of individuals’ interactions online has long been a concern for privacy advocates and others.

Much of the policy attention is currently focused on cookies used to track users to build profiles for more targeted advertising, but some of the more difficult issues are:

  • How to deal with less-observable tracking (e.g. browser and/or device fingerprinting, monitoring of publicly disclosed information)
  • How to develop laws that accommodate different tracking scenarios – for example:
  • different entities (law enforcement, companies, etc.);
  • different and sometimes multiple purposes (security, personalising user experience, targeting advertising, malicious activity; etc.);
  • first-party and third-party tracking o single site and multiple site tracking
  • Transparency (particularly on small mobile devices)
  • Whether a traditional consent model is sufficient and effective

This workshop will explore:

  • Current and emerging trends in online tracking (and their related purposes)
  • How to give individuals full knowledge of the tracking that occurs when they go online
  • Mechanisms to give individuals greater control over tracking and data use
  • The respective roles of all actors (government, law enforcement, Internet intermediaries, businesses, browser vendors, application developers, advertisers, data brokers, users, Internet technical community, etc.)
  • Whether effective data protection online can be ensured solely by law.
  • Whether self-regulation and voluntary consensus standards offer better options for tuning privacy choice to the rapidly advancing technology environment.