16 Dec

“Do Not Track” Me | Online Privacy

When you browse online there are a variety of technologies tracking your every click of the mouse and keystroke. Many third party marketing firms embed cookies in their advertisements and links, enabling them to map your online activity and better understand your browsing habits. This information enables them to market goods and services to you as an individual through personalized advertisements.

Some Internet users find this practice to be an invasion of privacy and wish for the government, large businesses and marketers to respect people’s privacy. Well, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a proposed framework for business and policy makers that would allow for both parties to be happy. The feature: a web browser with a “Do Not Track” setting.

The following is the entire document titled, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change”. I recommend reviewing the Executive Summary, only the first few pages.

FTC Online Privacy Report

Modeled after the “Do Not Call” registry enacted in 2003, the proposed “Do Not Track” may provide much needed insight into the mindset of the online consumer. As FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch recently stated, “Making access to the Do Not Track mechanism depend upon consumer opting in would not only parallel the Do Not Call model, it would give the Commission a much more reliable estimate of the percentage of consumers who really wish to prevent this type of tracking.”

I personally enjoy being presented with personalized advertisements. Marketers gather information about my personality, interests, hobbies and much more through analyzing the sites that I frequent, and thus, present targeted ads to me at strategic times.

For example, I picked up golf this summer. While I started to research the game, visit websites of local courses and converse with my online community about the sport, I began to see advertisements for golf equipment. I understand how some may find this intrusive and a little bit creepy, but personally I thought of it as a convenience. I now had salesmen coming to me with what I was interested in when I was interested in seeing it.

Imagine if I walked into a clothing store and was approached by a saleswoman. I may be wearing sweatpants and a bulky winter coat in need of a bathing suit for my upcoming vacation, but she wouldn’t have known that from my appearance. However, with marketers’ unique analysis of my online activity, this same saleswoman is now informed that I am visiting the Bahamas in a week’s time, and is waiting patiently with my favorite color swim trunk in my size.

Time is money, and I am saving it! What about you?