NEWS16 September 2011

Esomar to survey industry use of cookies and tracking technology

Europe Government

NETHERLANDS— Esomar is asking online research companies to take part in a survey about their use of cookies and other online tracking technologies as legislators look to tighten regulations in response to concerns about online privacy.

The trade organisation says the results will help it better promote the industry’s interests by explaining to lawmakers how these technologies are used in market research so as to differentiate it from marketing uses.

In a statement, Esomar says: “A handful of EU member states have implemented the EU’s e-Privacy Directive which includes new provisions on these techniques which has implications for online research. Some countries are requiring prior consent from computer users before cookies can be placed and the remaining EU countries will be passing legislation in the months to come.

“The Federal Trade Commission in the US is also under pressure to require more transparency and to gather consent for techniques that identify and/or track individual users online. This will affect all sectors, including market research.”

This week the FTC published proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that would require parental permission for a website to use tracking software to build a profile about a child and monitor their online activities for targeted marketing purposes. It also expands the definition of ‘personal information’ to include geolocation information and the persistent identifiers associated with mobile devices.

The FTC has also given its support to do-not-track proposals, some of which are being pursued by a Tracking Protection Working Group within the Worldwide Web Consortium.

Consortium members Nick Doty and Thomas Roessler wrote in a blog post: “Our task here is to deliver a set of standards that enables individuals to express their preferences and choices about online tracking, and enables transparency concerning online tracking activities for users and the public alike.”

  • The US House of Representatives yesterday held a hearing on the impact of EU privacy regulations are having on the digital economy and in particular US businesses. Click here for a report by the Marketing Research Association’s director of government affairs, Howard Fienberg.


1 Comment

13 years ago

Data that can uniquely identify a website visitor, such as a cookie, can be used for both market analysis and tracking. That is why the EU member states are all introducing law that mandate that consent must be obtained before any such information is put into visitors browsers, whatever the purpose. This has been on the cards for a while, and perhaps would not have been needed if the online advertisers/marketers had effectively self-regulated earlier. For why the new laws are good for both consumers and marketers see @minabird

Like Report