Cross-Device Tracking


Many of us these days have multiple internet-connected devices that we use to work, browse, shop and plan our lives. For individuals, having continuity of service between these devices is an incredible convenience, however, service providers and marketers face major privacy challenges when using technologies to identify individuals on multiple devices.

This topic page provides guidance, tools, resources and news on what cross-device tracking is, the challenges it presents, applicable laws and the available solutions.

Featured Resources

Top 10 privacy checklist for smart devices

The IAPP published this checklist to help avoid the type of privacy and security snafus that can attract FTC attention when marketing and releasing an IoT device.
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When Cross-Device Tracking Goes Beyond Creepy

This post for Privacy Perspectives looks into technology that tracks people through their devices unknowingly and how that goes beyond just being creepy.
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The Privacy
Pitfalls of
Cross-Device Tracking

This article by Angelique Carson covers the discussion at the IAPP’s Privacy. Security. Risk session, “I See You Here, There, Everywhere: The Implications of Cross-Device Tracking.”
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Latest News and Resources

FTC Cross-device Tracking Report

The Federal Trade Commission released a report on cross-device tracking, including descriptions of the technology used to track consumers across multiple devices, the benefits and challenges associated with tracking users, and industry efforts to remedy those issues. While the report dives into the benefits of cross-device tracking, it states consumers often do not know the practice is taking place and have limited choices in controlling any data tracking. The report highlights several industry ... Read More

Cookies Are So Yesterday; Cross-Device Tracking Is In—Some Tips

The cookie is out, and cross-device tracking is in. After all, one recent study found users can switch from laptop to smartphone to tablet an average of 21 times in a single hour. But how do you sell cross-device tracking to your users while avoiding the privacy pitfalls the cookie faced during its ascension? Michael Whitener, CIPP/US, CIPP/C, CIPP/E, CIPP/G, CIPM, CIPT, lists the things marketers can do to keep both company and consumers safe while taking advantage of the insights such tracking can provide. Read More



A program run by the Digital Advertising Alliance to promote awareness and choice in advertising for internet users. Websites with ads from participating DAA members will have an AdChoices icon near advertisements or at the bottom of their pages. By clicking on the Adchoices icon, users may set preferences for behavioral advertising on that website or with DAA members generally across the web. Associated term(s): Digital Advertising Alliance... Read More

Behavioral Advertising

Advertising that is targeted at individuals based on the observation of their behaviour over time. Most often done via automated processing of personal data, or profiling, the General Data Protection Regulation requires that data subjects be able to opt-out of any automated processing, to be informed of the logic involved in any automatic personal data processing and, at least when based on profiling, be informed of the consequences of such processing. If cookies are used to store or access info... Read More

Browser Fingerprinting

As technology has advanced, it has become easier to differentiate between users just based on the given instance of the browser they are using. Each browser keeps some information about the elements it encounters on a given webpage. For instance, a browser will keep information on a text font so that the next time that font is encountered on a webpage, the information can be reproduced more easily. Because each of these saved elements have been accessed at different times and in different orders... Read More


In the context of consent, choice refers to the idea that consent must be freely given and that data subjects must have a genuine choice as to whether to provide personal data or not. If there is no true choice it is unlikely the consent will be deemed valid under the General Data Protection Regulation. Associated term(s): Consent... Read More


This privacy requirement is one of the fair information practices. Individuals must be able to prevent the collection of their personal data, unless the disclosure is required by law. If an individual has choice about the use or disclosure of his or her information, consent is the individual's way of giving permission for the use or disclosure. Consent may be affirmative; i.e., opt-in; or implied; i.e., the individual didn’t opt out.(1) Affirmative/Explicit Consent: A requirement that an individ... Read More

Contextual Advertising

The most used form of targeted advertising on the internet. The content of the ad relies on the content of the webpage or the query entered by a user. Associated term(s): Behavioral Advertising, Demographic Advertising, Premium Advertising, Psychographic Advertising, Remnant Advertising.... Read More

Digital Advertising Alliance

A non-profit organization that sets standards for consumer privacy, transparency and control in online advertising. Over 100 advertising companies participate in and comply with their standards. The DAA has an agreement with both the Council on Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association to enforce the self-regulatory standards set down by the Digital Advertising Alliance including AdChoices, a programming offering user control over behavioral advertising. Acronym: DAAAssociate... Read More

Direct Marketing

When the seller directly contacts an individual, in contrast to marketing through mass media such as television or radio.... Read More

Interactive Advertising Bureau

A trade association representing advertising businesses. The IAB develops industry standards, conducts research, and provides legal support for the online advertising industry. Link to: Interactive Advertising Bureau Acronym(s): IAB... Read More

Location-Based Service

Services that utilize information about location to deliver, in various contexts, a wide array of applications and services, including social networking, gaming and entertainment. Such services typically rely upon GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi, or similar technologies in which geolocation is used to identify the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a mobile device or an internet-connected computer terminal.- Acronym(s): LBS Associated term(s): Geolocation; GPS; Global Positioning System; RF... Read More

Online Behavioral Advertising

Websites or online advertising services that engage in the tracking or analysis of search terms, browser or user profiles, preferences, demographics, online activity, offline activity, location data, etc., and offer advertising based on that tracking.... Read More


One of two central concepts of choice. It means an individual makes an active affirmative indication of choice; i.e., checking a box signaling a desire to share his or her information with third parties. Associated term(s): Choice; Consent; Opt-Out... Read More


One of two central concepts of choice. It means an individual’s lack of action implies that a choice has been made; i.e., unless an individual checks or unchecks a box, their information will be shared with third parties. Associated term(s): Choice; Consent; Opt-In... Read More