Marketing an Invasion of Privacy?

According to CNet, “The Washington-based U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Digital Democracy have asked the Federal Trade Commission to review–and ideally restrict–what they describe as a growing online business model dependent on technologies that “aggressively track us wherever we go, creating data profiles to be used in ever-more sophisticated and personalized ‘one-to-one’ targeting schemes.”

They say that we consumers are helpless against “techniques–including data gathering and mining, audience targeting and tracking–that render users all but defenseless before the sophisticated assault of new-media marketing”

The group argues that even if ad trackers don’t have personally identifiable information, “companies effectively know enough about users to track every move they make, erasing the possibility of truly anonymous browsing,”

Scary shit. You can read the full 50 page complaint here. Remember, big marketing is watching.

Comments

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  1. Anybody who signs up with Sitemeter knows there really isn’t much anonymous browsing at all.

    If we can see what search engines bring people to our blogs, for free, what hope do we have against a company that wants to track us?

  2. And how does the FTC plan to enforce this policy?

    Perhaps the FTC could aggressively track them wherever they go, creating data profiles to be used in ever-more sophisticated and personalized ‘prosecutorial’ lawsuits?

    It’s a great idea, but how can we expect to stop it when we can’t do anything about viagra spam and Nigerian 419 scams?

    My solution to this problem is as simple as it is elegant. Catch the spammers and direct marketers, and introduce them to the guillotine.

  3. FLConsumer says:

    Remember kids, tossing your cookies is a GOOD thing on the internet! Or like mama said, don’t accept cookies/candy from strangers.

  4. Citron says:

    Exactly. I have my computer on full Firefox lockdown. But it’s unfortunate that most people are in the dark when it comes to exactly what about them is being sent to whom. While trying to stop this sort of thing is possibly wholly ineffective, it might be good to raise awareness.

  5. Sam Glover says:

    A bit of regulation in this area might actually be a good thing, but I agree with crayonshinobi that effective regulation seems difficult, if not impossible. And probably, the only companies who will actually follow the regulations are those we aren’t all that worried about in the first place.

  6. moejuda says:

    Why get so up in arms about this? Is it so horrible for the banner add on the page you look at to be for a product you might be interested in? How exactly do you suppose all these nice online services you enjoy are funded? To me, this is fear-mongering, nothing more. There is a reason this is called anonymous tracking…there is no personally identifiable information there. So an advertising company knows your particular tastes in porn…that doesn’t mean they know your name and address to send dirty ads to.

    Besides, for those truely worried about this, there are plenty of ways to anonymize your presence on the internet. Keep the government away from the Internet.

  7. watch out ben, the ftc is gonna come after you and malatron next. don’t be stingy with those cash refunds!