What is acceptable first party tracking?

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Michael
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What is acceptable first party tracking?

Post by Michael » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:24 pm

The EasyPrivacy policy states that "Filters for first-party trackers should only be added if the items blocked collect a significant amount of personal data"; however, as the wording is ambiguous I have created this topic with my interpretation of the policy for the discussion of various pieces of information that could be collected and whether or not the subscription should specifically prevent the logging of the data. I ultimately intend to write a blog post to clarrify the situation for website owners.

Page status
Information about the page itself, such as the address or whether or not the content has loaded, is not personal information, and I would therefore suggest that collecting information about the site status is acceptable.

JavaScript status
I would regard the JavaScript status as generic information provided that trackers do not attempt to determine the reason why scripts are unavailable, and I would therefore suggest collecting this type of information is acceptable.

Advert blocking status
There is no intrinsic issue with detection of advert blocking software, as we do not object to websites adding unobtrusive messages to their pages specifically for users of such programs and, provided that no detailed information such as the name of program responsible is collected, I would regard this type of tracking as acceptable.

IP Address
User agent
Referrer
Although this information is recorded in system logs, the details make users identifiable when this information undoubtedly personal. I would therefore suggest that EasyPrivacy should continue to regard the first party collection of such data as unacceptable and prevent it being sent to any additional tracking systems on the domain.

Plugins
This information is not located in the system logs and undoubtedly personal. I would therefore suggest that this type of tracking is unacceptable.

"Random" numbers
I have no issue with genuinely random numbers being generated on each page or the use of a timestamp. However, I would not consider it acceptable to use a number to track the user's visit trail around a website without their consent, as this would make the value little better than an IP address.

Flash objects
In the vast majority of instances Flash is an unnecessary alternative to other methods of tracking, such as JavaScript. Furthermore, these objects may set cookies that cannot be easily controlled by the browser. I would therefore regard the collection of information using Flash as unacceptable in practically all circumstances.

Please let me know if there are any other types of tracking that I have not accounted for or if you disagree with my interpretation of policy or the purpose of EasyPrivacy.

Ares2
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Post by Ares2 » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:54 pm

What about this (imagine everything would be collected separately):

Example: http://www.edn.com/article/517339-Table ... _sales.php (rbipt.gif)

Current page
Screen resolution
Color depth
Language
Timezone

Michael
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Post by Michael » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:46 pm

Current page
The current page is not personal information, pertaining more to the website than the user, and therefore should be permitted to be collected in my opinion.

Screen resolution
Color depth
This information is not recorded in the system logs, which was our initial criteria for the evaluation of data. I would therefore suggest that systems should not collect this information.

Language
If the language is that of the website the I do not have an issue with the information being collected, as it is about the site rather than user. However, to record the value set in the browser oversteps the mark in my opinion.

Time zone
Time zone provides a very approximate location of the user, and I would therefore suggest that this information should be classified as personal and prevented from being collected where possible.

Michael
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Post by Michael » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:03 pm

I'll start to collate this information in a blog post, to be published at some point next week.

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Post by Michael » Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:19 pm

This policy has finally been collated and published in the blog post What is acceptable first-party tracking?.

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