Media Law Bulletin - December 2011 - FTC Privacy Enforcement Targets ScanScout's Failure to Toss Its Cookies


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has served notice that it is not messing around when it comes to zombies and cookies. ScanScout, Inc., a Boston-based online advertising network, recently settled FTC charges that it deceptively claimed that consumers could opt out of receiving targeted ads by changing their computer's web browser settings to block cookies, despite the fact that ScanScout used Flash cookies that are difficult to block through standard browser settings. ScanScout's practices and the FTC's enforcement action offer a cautionary tale for disclosure policies and practices of companies with an online presence.

Companies recognize that customers are concerned about guarding their privacy in relation to their online activities. By now, even the non-geeks roaming the Internet have likely heard about the privacy dangers associated with Flash cookies which, like naked licensing, are not nearly as fun as they sound.

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