I spoke very briefly about the Do Not Track legislation in Congress in my last post, but I did happen upon a really good article from the Washington Post this morning that discusses the concepts and proposed ideas very clearly.
Find the article here.
Essentially, online companies like Facebook and Apple are quickly gaining more users, but the federal laws have not kept up with the applications to protect the personal information from being improperly used. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has publicly backed the opt-out Do Not Track mechanisms that seem to be the most viable option for web browsers today. These mechanisms work by blocking cookies and sites from collecting information about what a web user does on the website. For instance, every time I click an ad on Facebook, Facebook logs my activity and figures out a way to cater my personal experience through the use of this behavioral information. The Do Not Track tool would keep Facebook from having the ability to follow my clicks and views on the site. Microsoft and Mozilla have already put tools on browsers.
Leibowitz said “An effective Do Not Track system would go beyond simply opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements. It would opt them out of having their behavior tracked online.”
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) is about to introduce a privacy bill soon, and the Obama administration, while not specific, has given vague support for the legislature.
Personally, I think the ability to opt out is very important for users. This is a very understated form of privacy invasion: the internet is created to specifically for us to click and view and browse. I suppose the business person in me completely understands that marketers have found a way to make tracking the simple use of the internet a tool for additional productivity. The sad thing is that until opt-out tools are widely spread and proven effective, marketers are combing through every move I make online and pushing it all back on me. Like I said before, sometimes this is effective, and other times, it’s plain creepy.
Either way you look at it, it’s an invasion of privacy.