Do You Care About Being Stalked On The Internet?


In a follow up to the story on the FTC plan and a “Do not track” mechanism


released this past week, William E. Kovacic, a Bush appointed Republican FTC commissioner, who was the agency’s chairman, approved the release the F.T.C. report on Wednesday. He claimed that he believed the do-not-track recommendation was “premature, and needed greater support for the proposition that consumer expectations of privacy are largely going unmet.”

So the former chairman, Kovacic, isn’t sure whether or not “consumers,” and we can only reason he means consumers and his concern is about consumers, wants to have their every movement tracked by the likes of electronic bots who can create profiles to determine which ads to show us, or what we ought to be thinking.



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Perhaps, Kovacic is opting for a better educated populous who understands exactly what is being tracked, and what is happening to the data?  According to today’s NYTimes, “Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he would introduce a bill that would put in place such a system to prevent the tracking of children using the Internet.”

Others, like Representative Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, the leading Republican on the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, are concerned about our fragile economy, though we don’t know how he votes on tax cuts for millionaires.  The Times article points to Joan Gillman, an executive vice president at Time Warner Cable,  “do-not-track could hinder job creation within the advertising industry and by Web sites that rely on advertising revenues,” as well as “inhibit innovation and the development of new services.”

That is simply wrong and I believe she knows how wrong that is.  When I started in the online advertising business in the mid nineties, there was no tracking, no spam and no children being stalked.  After forty years in advertising, I finally felt part of a dream come true.  Advertisers then experienced a 30% response, and we realized that if we presented quality content and value, people would flock to our offers.  Lax rules and zero understanding or interest in the user's privacy is what brought thing back to earth, and the reality that greed would prevail. It seems clear, many who should understand how to regulate, aren't interested in the realities we face.

Furthermore, no one is suggesting you can’t track information as long as you tell your “MEMBERS” what it is you are tracking.  No one is saying you can’t use this data to infer future sales, but if you think you can sell it, you better get my permission first and the default is no on selling data.

Director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America, Susan Grant uses the brick and mortar analogy, and asks, what would you think if, instead of a virtual stalker, an person was actually following you and your family?  I’ve never been sure what it would take for people to realize that they have rights as consumers, and they don’t hurt anyone, but they may protect you or your loved ones someday.  Write your Congress and tell them, you want to be in charge of your own tracking.

Susan Grant is director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America

In her testimony at the hearing, Grant said, "'behavioral tracking' is primarily used for marketing purposes at this point, but it can also be used to make assumptions about people in connection with employment, housing, insurance, and financial services; for purposes of lawsuits against individuals; and for government surveillance."

"There are no limits to what types of information can be collected, how long it can be retained, with whom it can be shared, or how it can be used. As the Wall Street Journal characterized it in the beginning of its series, “one of the fastest‐ growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on consumers.”

Here is a link to her full statement on the subject:

The best part of the article comes from Texas Republican, Joe L. Baron, currently the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and who is expected to be a strong contender to become chairman of the committee.

“I want the Internet economy to prosper, but it can’t unless the people’s right to privacy means more than a right only to hear excuses after the damage is done,” Mr. Barton said in a statement issued after the F.T.C. released its report on Wednesday. “In the next Congress, the Energy and Commerce Committee and our subcommittees are going to find out if Internet privacy policies really mean anything, and if necessary, how to make them stick.”

Don't believe jobs will be lost or economies will be destroyed or any of the other nonsense put out by advertisers or network owners.  Demand rights to your profile and the ability to punish those who attempt to break the rules.  Only severe financial penalties put in place will show that we are smart enough to not destroy the single best thing that has happened to commerce since the telephone.


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Founded with the goal of providing the best solution to getting important technology products and services to the IT community on a permission basis. The goal has always been to streamline the information acquisition process and adapt the marketers to the buyers.


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