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History sniffing.

A behavioural advertising term.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission, news release, “FTC Settlement Puts an End to ‘History Sniffing’ by Online Advertising Network Charged With Deceptively Gathering Data on Consumers”:  “An online advertising company agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it used ‘history sniffing’ to secretly and illegally gather data from millions of consumers about their interest in sensitive medical and financial issues ranging from fertility and incontinence to debt relief and personal bankruptcy.  The FTC settlement order bars the company, Epic Marketplace Inc., from continuing to use history sniffing technology, which allows online operators to ‘sniff’ a browser to see what sites consumers have visited in the past.  It also bars future misrepresentations by Epic and requires the company to destroy information that it gathered unlawfully.  Consumers searching the Internet shouldn’t have to worry about whether someone is going to go sniffing through the sensitive, personal details of their browsing history without their knowledge,’ said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  ‘This type of unscrupulous behavior undermines consumers’ confidence, and we won’t tolerate it.’
 
Epic Marketplace is a large advertising network that has a presence on 45,000 websites.  Consumers who visited any of the network’s sites received a cookie, which stored information about their online practices including sites they visited and the ads they viewed.  The cookies allowed Epic to serve consumers ads targeted to their interests, a practice known as online behavioral advertising.”

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