Cross-Device Tracking: Measurement and Disclosures

Authors: Justin Brookman (Federal Trade Commission, Office of Technology Research and Investigation), Phoebe Rouge (Federal Trade Commission, Office of Technology Research and Investigation), Aaron Alva (Federal Trade Commission, Office of Technology Research and Investigation), Christina Yeung (Federal Trade Commission, Office of Technology Research and Investigation)

Volume: 2017
Issue: 2
Pages: 133–148
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/popets-2017-0020

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Abstract: Internet advertising and analytics technology companies are increasingly trying to find ways to link behavior across the various devices consumers own. This cross-device tracking can provide a more complete view into a consumer’s behavior and can be valuable for a range of purposes, including ad targeting, research, and conversion attribution. However, consumers may not be aware of how and how often their behavior is tracked across different devices. We designed this study to try to assess what information about cross-device tracking (including data flows and policy disclosures) is observable from the perspective of the end user. Our paper demonstrates how data that is routinely collected and shared online could be used by online third parties to track consumers across devices.

Keywords: privacy, cross-device, tracking, transparency

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