Transparency works: Specific Media kills the cache

September 11, 2010

Specific Media’s privacy practices have drawn more attention than they would have liked in the last several months. One issue highlighted in a prior post was SM’s use of local cache storage for unique user IDs — which, like a Flash cookie, could be used as a “back up” identifier after the user clears their regular browser cookies. That’s a no-no under rules of the Network Advertising Initiative, so it was a puzzle when the NAI appeared to have closed out Specific Media’s overdue 2009 review with cache-based ID storage still in place.

Now it appears that Specific Media has put an end to cached ID storage (based on yesterday’s revision to their privacy policy). That’s good news, since now there can be no implication that the NAI would permit this kind of practice.

Assuming Specific Media has killed the use of the cache on the backend (we haven’t tested this, yet, but will), I’d like to think that this is an example of how transparency can work to bring individual company practices in line with industry norms. Even better would be if the NAI would be so bold as to report directly and publicly on these issues as they arise and are resolved.

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