Thursday, November 02, 2006

More On Privacy

Yesterday I asked:

Shouldn't they have to show that the data collection is harmful before they file complaints

BetaNews has a great take on the petition:
The petition omits mention of tactics of salespeople in retail settings, who for decades have been trained to observe shoppers' behavior, even when -- or especially when -- they're wandering around. Retailers collect information from their customers every day in order to communicate better with those customers and to close a sale, and the very existence of shopping malls stands as proof that many customers prefer to conduct transactions in places where their privacy cannot possibly be guaranteed.

But also omitted from the citation -- 44 pages of which are devoted to citations from marketing brochures and Web sites, as well as Microsoft's privacy policy -- is any direct connection between the concept of collecting any user's behavior data, and that of gleaning from that data any personal information about that user to which a retailer or other service might not otherwise be entitled were he or she to enter that service's own physical retail storefront

The idea that we are only facing privacy invasion on the 'net is an illusion. From coupons to loyalty discounts to stopping to look at the latest Tool CD, retailers are watching what we do and trying to figure out how to offer us something that we just can't live without.
Everyday users, the industry groups contend, are generally unaware of the amount of behavioral investigations that Web sites conduct, and may thus be unaware of how their privacy may be invaded. For one non-Microsoft example, the petition cites a service offered by marketing technologies firm JumpTap, which keeps track of media purchases consumers make through their cell phones, and by way of alliances through carriers, make recommendations to customers about what they might like to purchase next.

So which experience would consumers rather have? The one where they get spammed about every crap CD that they play on Top 40 radio? Or advertisements about a hot but obscure jazz pianist that you would never have discovered on your own?

If the nanny-staters would just shut up long enough consumers will answer that question without being "protected" by people that think they know better.

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