From the Digital C-Suite

User control over cookies needs to be sacrosanct


Just as the industry begins to make strides to address misplaced concerns around targeted advertising, in steps the flash cookie and the practice of re-spawning. As seen in yesterday’s WIRED piece http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/08/specificmedia-zombie-cookie/, an ad network is getting hit with lawsuits for the practice (and if true, they deserve the lawsuits). Users should be able to control and opt-out of cookies if they so choose – and this needs to be sacrosanct. We joined the NAI recently, and this practice is against their policy – members should be thrown out for using flash cookies. In short, companies practicing this kind of re-spawning – secretly reinstating cookies once a user has purposefully deleted them – is wrong from a privacy perspective, and gives the vast majority of companies who do value transparency and user control a bad name.

So how do we rectify? Aside from lawsuits and general name calling, a good first step would be for the industry to unite and create a list of online companies who publicly pledge not to use flash cookies to re-spawn user cookies. This would create a public place where advertisers, publishers, and users can check if a company they are interacting with or doing business with has pledged to do things the right way. Bizo volunteers to be the first name on that list.

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