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Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

Posted May 04, 2011 11:00 AM

From Fast Company:

There's growing social and legal momentum behind the "do not track" initiative to protect online privacy, but now some of the biggest names in tech are opposing the legislation, hinting that job losses and profit cuts could be the result. Are they being totally honest?

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#1

Re: Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

05/04/2011 11:27 AM

Re: Are they being totally honest?

I think I can safely say: absolutely not.

Re: hinting that job losses and profit cuts could be the result

That shouldn't surprise anybody a bit. Are job or profit losses the only thing that should be considered? We could increase employment (perhaps only temporarily) or profits by any number of illegal, unethical, or immoral practices.

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Re: Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

05/04/2011 12:56 PM

hinting that job losses and profit cuts could be the result

Ahhh... isn't that a pity. Just think what the abolition movement did to jobs and profits in the Atlantic triangular slave trade. We'd hate to have a repeat of that, eh?

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Re: Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

05/04/2011 1:09 PM

I think the real question(s) here should be:

Who is getting hurt by online tracking, and how?

Why is this legislation needed?

How much will it cost to implement and enforce?

Is targeted advertising based on websites visited really an invasion of privacy?

Would people prefer that google, facebook, et. al., charge a monthly subscription fee for usage?

These companies are in business to make money. With money coming in from advertisers, everything remains free for the rest of us...............which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Since we're going to be hit with advertising regardless, I'd prefer the advertising to be for things that I may actually be interested in.

While I don't always trust the motives of big business, I trust the motives and logic of big government even less.

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In reply to #3

Re: Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

05/04/2011 3:36 PM

Would people prefer that google, facebook, et. al., charge a monthly subscription fee for usage?

Numerous radio and television stations manage to support themselves with advertising without being privy to the contents of my e-mail or "private" conversations with my friends in remote places. I suppose if good old-fashioned market research works for them, it COULD work for google, facebook, et. al.

aldaily.com provides free content by advertiser support--it sometimes even gives readers free access to subscription-only content from other sites. CR4 manages to provide free content supported by globalspec's advertisers. With the number of .com sites that are able to support themselves through non-targeted advertising.

This is certainly not the business model that online content providers must follow, but I think privacy should be legally protected so that service providers are the one's making a decision whether to charge subscription fees or advertise based on free radio and television models. While that is not the case, we the consumers have the responsibility to protect ourselves, but full disclosure should be required in order to enable us to make good decisions. Companies should be required to disclose what information is being gathered, by whom, how it will be used, and how it wll be secured from other use.

Of course I know that g-mail will post advertising links based on keywords it detects in my e-mail correspondence. It is clear that my missives are monitored, so I have some personal responsibility to avoid putting information in their system if it is really critical to me to keep it private. A number of institutions, however, provide mail services through "snoopy" providers without notifying users that their correspondence may be subject to Google's or MSN's snooping for advertising purposes. I know of several universities whose e-mail systems are not-so-transparently driven by (and subject to snooping by) hotmail.com--a free e-mail service of MSN's.

Is targeted advertising based on websites visited really an invasion of privacy?

While the stated purpose of reading other people's mail is targeted advertising, there is no guarantee that information gleaned for this purpose will be used exclusively for this purpose.

I've also seen that targeted advertising is based not only on websites visited, but also on keywords in e-mail messages. For example, my wife is currently out of town, and she sent an e-mail to my g-mail account asking about a kind of wine I'd like her to bring home. My g-mail page was liberally littered with links to sites about wine, and my igoogle page suddenly had advertisements for different wine brands. If my e-mails mention lean six sigma, my igoogle page is suddenly full of advertisements for Villanova's online LSS certification programs. This is targeted advertising based on "private" letters between me and other people, and that definitely is an invasion of privacy.

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Re: Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

05/04/2011 5:21 PM

Wow!! I wasn't aware that companies were accessing emails..............they shouldn't be doing that for advertising or anything else. I've never experienced anything like that.

I'm all for full disclosure of what they are collecting from us. Accessing email should be completely illegal. To me that is equivalent to tapping our phones to find out what we're talking about.

As televisions become more interactive, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if viewing habits are being tracked, or it's in the works.

Maybe a decent compromise would be for these companies to stop tracking us, and in return the public would fill out a one time, (per site), online questionnaire indicating our interests and what type of advertising we would most likely respond to. This would give them the information they are looking for, without sneaking around on our computers, and it would put us in control of what information they get.

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