HOLLYWOOD, Fl — It just wangled a big fine out of TV maker Vizio for collecting millions of viewers’ viewing histories without consent. Now the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants to ensure all consumers know plenty more about how their data is being used.

The FTC just published a staff report on how publishers track and consumer data across devices. The conclusion is on the mind of Neustar chief privacy officer Becky Burr, whose own company helps unify customer data sets across channels.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Burr said: “One of the things they said is, ‘this world is very complex, the ecosystem is complex … somehow, the ecosystem has to work together better to make sure that, at all levels of the ecosystem, the right disclosures are being made’.

“We need publishers to make disclosures about what’s happening on the backend, to explain those things to consumers, and develop more standardised ways of describing what’s happening.

“The FTC has called on people to come together collectively to give users more information and more control about what’s going on in a multi-device world.”

The challenges around cross-device tracking have emerged because, whilst the age of desktop internet saw targeting executed largely by web browser cookie, the era in which a single consumer now uses multiple such devices requires more advanced techniques.

Joining up the data streams left by distinct devices is a job for companies like Neustar. But the tone of the FTC’s report is to warn such companies to play by the rules – and to give consumers more visiblity and choice about how their data is used in a multi-device world.

The FTC’s report concluded:

“… It is important that consumers are informed and able to control tracking that occurs across their devices. … Entities with direct consumer-facing relationships and those engaging in cross-device tracking (should) be transparent about their data collection and use practices; improve choice mechanisms to provide consumers control over their data; provide heightened protections for sensitive data…”

This video is part of a series produced at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. Beet.TV’s coverage of this event is sponsored by Index Exchange. For more videos from this series, please visit this page.

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