The Federal Trade Commission said today that it finalized a settlement with ScanScout for allegedly using Flash cookies to track Web users.
The deal calls for ScanScout to give users an easy way to opt out of the collection of many types of data, including IP addresses. The company is still allowed to collect data from opted-out users for some purposes, including frequency capping, fraud prevention and age verification.
Flash cookies were originally designed to store people's preferences for applications like online video players. But, starting around 2005, some companies decided to use Flash cookies to store the same type of information that is normally found on HTTP cookies. Flash cookies are stored in a different place in browsers than HTTP cookies and, until recently, were harder for many users to delete.
The action marked the first time the FTC brought a case regarding Flash cookies -- which first came to public attention in 2009, when researchers at UC Berkeley published a report detailing how Web sites used Flash to recreate HTTP cookies that users had deleted
But the FTC's case isn't the first time that Flash cookies have been mentioned in legal proceedings. In the last year, three companies -- Quantcast, Clearspring and Say Media's VideoEgg -- agreed to pay a total of $3.4 million to settle civil lawsuits about Flash cookies.