Privacy company TRUSTe is launching a product today that tells publishers the identities of the tracking companies that drop cookies on visitors' computers.
The service, dubbed EU Cookie Audit, is aimed at helping companies in the U.K. comply with that country's new privacy regulations, which are slated to take effect in May. Those rules appear to require companies to obtain users' explicit consent before placing tracking cookies on their computers.
Although the cookie audit is geared toward U.K. laws, TRUSTe is rolling out the service globally. CEO Chris Babel says the service is needed because many Web publishers don't realize who else is on their sites. "In the customer meetings that I've had in the past three months, every customer or potential customer has been surprised at some of the things we've found on their sites," says Babel, who estimates that he's met with at least 20 publishers of all sizes in recent months.
Babel adds that in some cases, publishers realize that they used to have business deals with the unexpected tracking companies; in other circumstances, "they honestly do not know why a tracker is showing up."
The audit will give publishers details about the tracking, including where the trackers are on sites and which organization generates the tracking cookies that are found.
Publishers can customize the frequency of the scans and the number of pages scanned. Pricing starts in the thousand-dollar range and increases based on volume.