Let's hope the situation of user data gathered by sites starts to get some clarification. I am not sure folk really understand it. Before regulation can emerge, I think a bit of public education might be in line.
I have to agree that telemarketing was different. It was a more direct invasion of privacy and it didn't seem to be justified in any way. The Web is largely ad-supported, so it makes sense that models are used to make advertising a more targeted system. With that said, it doesn't make sense for consumers' data to be abused or used in ways they aren't aware of or anticipating.
I definitely agree with David that what consumers are concerned about is the way "Big Brother" is using our info. I'm still not convinced that this particular type of regulation is the way to go, but what I gather from this is that at least the idea alone has gotten browser companies and others to make some changes. More needs to be done and perhaps the threat of regulation alone will help push those changes along.
Somehow I don't think so, Kim. The particular form of telemarketing known as unsolicited sales calls was different: There was a lot of vocal public objection to it; its proponents were often held in contempt by all, and government probably knew it wasn't killing a golden goose. Telemarketers, meanwhile, have moved on and are focused on offshore call centers for other kinds of telemarketing -- like sales associated with ordering something on the phone. The segment survives.
It's very useful to have the FTC's thinking laid out clearly; but as for not killing "the goose," I do wonder what the telemarketing industry was told before the national don't-call register was introduced. "Oh, it'll be fine..."
Great blog, and it really helped me to hear the problem articulated this way. I have to agree that it isn't the targeted ads so much as the prospect of a Big Brother use of personal data that looms large for me as a consumer.
Identifying the real source of online privacy issues --as David's done here -- and talking them through will help enormously to boost progress in creating a Do Not Track feature that just might work.
In the final episode of this series about the death of Internet anonymity, Saunders describes how the Internet of the future will start to attain a level of intelligence that requires no human intervention. Scary.
What can users today do to protect their online privacy? The simplest and most obvious option is to not use the Internet – at all. However, once all digital information is consolidated over the Internet, trying to protect digital identity by simply unplugging from the Internet becomes impossible – a fact that has manifest implications for civil liberties, Saunders says.
By 2011 the number of Internet-connected sensors will exceed 1 trillion, making your chances of doing anything or going anywhere unnoticed pretty much zero. Saunders talks about how the 'sensortization' of the Internet is eliminating the traditional divide between online and offline populations.
The 20th Century Internet was characterized by the ability to interact with other people and information on the Internet largely without anyone knowing who you were. The Internet of this century, conversely, will be defined by identity. Saunders explains how Internet users are unwittingly contributing to the demise of the anonymous Internet.
The plan for unmanned police drones to patrol traffic and other city conditions in Seattle has sparked a new set of legal concerns about privacy. Law traditionally lags technology, but we can expect now to see a new round of activity in the courts as legal definitions begin to emerge on what "next-gen privacy" will look like.
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