The Sites You Visit May Know More About You Than You Think
If you haven’t heard, another behavioral targeting ad network has come under scrutiny by stodgy old senators reacting to privacy advocates. It would be great if our elected officials would spend more time on ways to end the war or lower gas prices.
NebuAd executives told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that the Redwood City, CA-based company doesn’t collect personally identifiable information or keep the data it collects for an extended period of time through the relationships it built with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). If you follow this trend in online advertising, you’ll find it very similar to the Facebook Beacon service that received plenty of attention late last year in countless blogs and mainstream media.
NebuAd’s business model and other behavioral advertising services have led to privacy concerns regarding Web surfers knowing and fully understanding the types of information collected about them while they click away online.
“Many consumers express concerns about the privacy and data security implications of being targeted,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, as reported by PCWorld, Look past how much (or how little) a 66-year-old, farm-raised, elected official from North Dakota actually knows about this stuff and realize that just like e-mail issues of 10-plus years ago, the biggest concern is understanding the desires of each person and allowing them to opt-in or opt-out of any targeting or other service.
Tracking your online habits is happening all around you, but you just don’t know it. One e-newsletter that I subscribe to used this as the click-thru to a story I wanted to read:
This URL allows the publisher to track the story I read and when I read it (among other things), all in Google Analytics. When I decided to get this e-newsletter, I don’t remember agreeing to this, and now I wonder whether my e-mail address and the other information the publisher knows about me is shared with advertisers without my consent.
The Web was built as an anonymous information channel. It seems that those days are long gone.