Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marketers Love Super Cookies. Should You?

If you don’t know what cookies are, they are basically tiny tracking systems or files placed on your PC or Smart Phone every time you visit a site, open an app, etc. For the PC there are unlimited amount of software or tactics to help you remove them. However, a Super Cookie is a tracking system that you can’t delete or remove. You can think of it like an IP address but on a smart phone it could be as simple as a unique product ID.

When you provide your age, gender, credit card, interact with apps your activity are transmitted to adverting companies, your carrier or data centers which then sell to advertisers without your knowledge or your option to opt out. Eventually, the introduction of front facing camera, what’s to stop app developers from enabling smart phones the ability to take pictures without your knowledge?

From a marketing perspective it is a very invaluable method to measure and fine tune tactics but from an overall individual angel, this is a very very risky. If you stop to think, imaging how information from lets say your facebook account could be related and analyzed to: your health record, phone call, bank account activity, drivers license record, purchases, politics, law enforcement records, travel activity, utility use. And all this information was made all available, linked, so instantly like your banker retrieving your credit rating.

As a sales and marketing individual, my advice to small business owners or large businesses take what you need but don’t jeopardize the privacy and safety of your customers, children, friends, associates, or neighbors for more information which most likely can get in the hands of hackers or criminals or most likely would be abused. My advice to myself and individuals is to be very careful in this fast-cheap storage digital age.

Lack of standard practices means different companies treat the same information differently. For example, Apple says that, internally, it treats the iPhone's UDID as "personally identifiable information." That's because, Apple says, it can be combined with other personal details about people—such as names or email addresses—that Apple has via the App Store or its iTunes music services. By contrast, Google and most app makers don't consider device IDs to be identifying information. – WSJ

WSJ's Julia Angwin explains to Simon Constable how smartphone apps collect and broadcast data about your habits. Many don't have privacy policies and there isn't much you can do about it.
An examination of 101 popular smartphone "apps"—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies without users' awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone's location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.
The findings reveal the intrusive effort by online-tracking companies to gather personal data about people in order to flesh out detailed dossiers on them. - WSJ

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