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Who is following me: tracking the trackers (IGF2012)

The Internet Society and the Council of Europe co-organised a workshop at the IGF (Baku - 8 November 2012 - 09:00 - 10:30) regarding online tracking.

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 Workng Group and the recent entry into force of the so-called European “Cookie Directive” provisions. 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

The panel:

  • Wendy Seltzer, Policy Council, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
  • Kimon Zorbas, Vice President, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe
  • Cornelia Kutterer, Director of Regulatory Policy, Corporate Affairs, LCA, Microsoft EMEA
  • Malavika Jayaram, partner at Jayaram & Jayaram, Bangalore
  • Rob van Eijk, Council of Europe expert, Leiden University (PhD student)

Note: Shaundra Watson, Counsel for international consumer protection, USA Federal Trade Commission, was unable to join the panel, but provided speaking points in advance of the workshop.

The moderators:

  • Christine Runnegar, Internet Society
  • Sophie Kwasny, Council of Europe

The remote moderator:

  • James Lawson, Council of Europe

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.

Please read our background paper, update and the report.