Web Firms to Adopt 'No Track' Button

http://j.mp/Aq94K2 (WSJ)

"A coalition of Internet giants including Google Inc. has agreed to
support a do-not-track button to be embedded in most Web browsers-a
move that the industry had been resisting for more than a year."

- - -

Now, here are the real ironies. As you'll see from reading the story,
what this is about is mainly personalized advertising from online
services. But reputable firms have been handling this through
mechanisms that typically don't tie back to individuals' actual
identities in the first place. Some (like Google) provide a
"dashboard" that users can already employ to control personalized ads
or turn off personalization completely.

Turn off personalization, and two things happen. (1) You get more
"random" ads (you're still going to get ads) that are less likely to
be of any interest. (2) Those ads will be less valuable to
advertisers, over time potentially undermining the financial support
structures of many Web services most users enjoy for free.

Meanwhile, out in the brick and mortar world, information regarding
our bank transactions, credit card purchases, voting records (yes,
voting activity records!), and all manner of other activities are
tracked, sold, sliced, and diced, then fed to the credit reporting
agencies, in ways that really can impact people's lives in serious
(and often negative) ways. This data is often tied to our real
identities through bank accounts, social security numbers, and so on.

Yet most of the political public attention is on personalized Web ads,
which are usually deployed through anonymous mechanisms.

Interesting priorities, eh?

-- Lauren --
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