It has been said that we must learn from the past to profit by the present. Taking this literally in this digital age of ours, one online advertising company has found this maxim to have some serious privacy implications as evidenced by the FTC order last week banning undisclosed history sniffing practices.
The FTC issued a consent order barring Epic from using history sniffing and required that they destroy data collected using such practices. It also barred the company from misrepresenting how user data is collected, used, disclosed or shared.
So what lesson can businesses take away from browsing Epic’s history? Going forward, they should confirm that the privacy policies on their websites conform to actual practices and effectively communicate the information collected from users, how it is collected and the purposes for which such user data is used. After all, Epic was not faulted for history sniffing in and of itself, but for history sniffing without proper disclosure.