Cyber crime is a scary thing, that’s why agencies like the Federal Trade Commission exist. Just yesterday the FTC announced they had settled charges against a popular online advertising agency. Although it is legal for advertisers to gather personal information based on a users browser history, limitations do exist. How exactly does cyber crime work?
Just yesterday the FTC announced they had settled charges against a popular online ad agency, Epic Marketplace Inc stemming from illegal use of “sniffing” software.
Public awareness regarding online privacy has been trending lately and cases like these don’t do much to comfort us. Although it is legal for advertisers to gather personal information based on a users browser history, limitations do exist.
The FTC alleged that Epic had employed web browser sniffing software that illegally targeted consumers outside the company’s network. Such information was extremely confidential including but not limited to health conditions, personal finance and fertility. Epic simply stored information about the sites consumers visited and targeted them accordingly.
As many of us know, web cookies are responsible for storing bits of data sent from a website’s dedicated server but stored in our web browser. The were originally intended as a way for sites to keep records of the pages we last visited, making it easier to navigate.
Yet software sniffing has become a huge privacy concern for consumers. That’s why the FTC slapped Epic on the hand for its less than ideal business practices.
So what type of agreement did they reach exactly? The FTC ordered Epic to destroy all the confidential information they had gathered from consumers outside its network. Furthermore, Epic is barred against using the sniffing software ever again. To some, this settlement may seem mild.
Consumers should be able to look up confidential information on the internet without the fear that some ad agency will sniff them out. Thankfully, the FTC is looking out for questionable behavior, from online advertisers especially. Sadly, we’re sure that this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. Cyber crimes are no joke.
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