FTC Privacy Roundtable Addresses Flash Cookies, Matching Data

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It's fitting that the second roundtable discussion of online privacy issues hosted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission occurred on Data Privacy Day, I think. Just as EU representatives did in their events on Thursday, panelists on the FTC roundtable at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law discussed the need for regulation in the privacy arena to catch up with technology.


According to SFGate, in her opening remarks, FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour noted:

If we are to stay ahead of the technology curve, we must address the question of privacy by design sooner than later.

Like the EU's Viviane Reding, she disagreed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that people are becoming more comfortable with a lesser level of privacy. She pointed to surveys and user behavior for evidence to the contrary, the story says.


The panel discussed the emergence of flash cookies, which run through the Adobe Flash player and do not clear when standard cookies are deleted from the browser. Also of concern is the decreasing usefulness of anonymized data. Hewlett-Packard's chief privacy officer, Scott Taylor noted that anonymized data "doesn't solve the problem because of the nature in which it can be combined" with other readily available data in order to identify a user.


Solution suggestions range from stricter rules and regulations to requiring those who collect consumer data to destroy it within 24 hours.