Privacy advos demand 'do not track list' for websites
As web marketeers tune up for FTC privacy meeting
A coalition of US privacy organisations has demanded the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set up a "do not track" list to allow consumers to surf the web without having their behaviour monitored, warehoused, and mined by marketeers.
The groups' call for more internet privacy was part of the knuckle cracking by Washington's net lobbyists this morning ahead of an FTC sponsored Town Hall meeting covering behavioural internet advertising.
The coalition, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Centre for Democracy and Technology, has demanded customers be able to opt out of being tracked by advertisers, just as US consumers can sign up to a do not call list to escape telemarketers.
Other demands from the consumer privacy lobby include a redefinition of "personally identifiable information" and the setting up of an "online consumer protection privacy committee".
It's also demanded more disclosure by advertisers and a ban on "collecting and using personally identifiable information about health, financial activities, and other sensitive data".
Given that sensitive data is the gold dust that keeps advertisers digging away in their data warehouses, the battle lines are clearly drawn.
On the other side of the town hall, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), in its submission to the FTC, trumpeted its initiatives to protect consumer privacy, while saying "the interaction among consumers, publishers, and advertisers fuels the engine that drives the net".
Unsurprisingly, it insisted "self regulation protects consumer privacy". It is the increased use of information which "fosters the availability of free content and services and more relevant advertising", apparently, but consumers can rest easy as IAB members recognised their "responsibility to protect and use that information to benefit consumers". Mainly by producing more targeted marketing material.
And just to show how in tune it is with the kids, the IAB included a presentation that declares: "Marketing is the new rock and roll, Super CMOs are the stars, and growth champion marketing teams are the band." Which presumably makes tracking data the new cocaine. ®
@Andy Bright, Anon
Andy: Full agreement here - nicely put.
Anon (RE: Cake): Thanks for that, I genuinely did not know that the phrase as commonly used is backwards!
You get what you pay for
/rant mode on
The reasoning that you should have the right to use other people's websites for free and not be subject to their only means of income is alarming.
The only privacy issue on the internet is not which shopping site has placed a couple easy to remove cookies in your cache, but why we allow governments the right to vacuum our email, IM chat and other forms of personal communication.
The assumption that the "terrorists will get us" if they don't is basically an accusation that everyone is a terrorist. The reason we have procedures such as warrants for other forms of communication is that democratic governments are supposed to serve the people, not spy on them in a cowardly, paranoid manner.
No western country faces existential demise if a few terrorists kill some of us. However we seem to be under the impression that unless we allow them to take away our privacy and a few other fundamental human rights, that's exactly what will happen.
Sorry, but we've been through world wars and a decidedly unstable cold war - all of which had a very realistic potential of causing the existential demise of dozens of western democracies - but you didn't see the general population running around saying "please take away my rights or we'll all die". They had a few more important things to worry about than whether Hitler managed to get through customs using fake ID, or whether Fred from Slough was reading Karl Marx greatest hits in his local library.
So instead of fighting the good fight to stop a couple websites from making the odd buck at the expense of a few extra messages in your inbox, why not spend your energy on something that matters?
When communications finally make the jump from traditional telephone networks and postal services to the internet, we'll have given the government a free hand to monitor whatever and whomever they want. There is a very sinister element to that monitoring, and it has nothing to do with terrorism. It's time to take back that privacy and tell the next prospective government, if they want your vote they'll have to bin these cowardly laws.
It's about time some people grew some bloody backbones and were willing to face the minuscule risk of death by terrorist, in order to preserve rights that literally millions of decent people worldwide died to protect, on our behalf.
/rant mode off
In response to: 'PS: Isn't "wanting to have your cake and eat it too" a really stupid phrase? Why would you want to have cake and NOT eat it?'
The correct phrase is 'Eat you cake and have it too.' You can't eat cake you don't have. If you've eaten your cake, you no longer 'have it'... Duh! And yes, everyone says it bas-ackwards.