Saturday, December 4, 2010

FTC "Do Not Track List": Great or Stupid Idea?

You may have heard of the "do not track list" for the internet that the FTC is considering.  Basically, any internet user would be able to opt not to be "tracked", with this functionality ideally being built into the browser with an easy option not to be tracked.  They're modeling it after the famous "do not call" list.

The proposal of the "do not track list" gave me chills, and not in a good way.  On the surface, this proposal sounds great.  After all, why not protect consumers' privacy?

First off, can you imagine how costly and difficult (if not impossible) this would be to implement and enforce?  If you can't fathom how difficult this would be, then you obviously have no concept of how the internet works these days!  And with the transition of the internet from browsers to apps and other things we probably can't fathom at this point, it'll get even more difficult to enforce.  Plus, the economy sucks, and government (taxpayers) would have to foot the bill for this effort.

Do you like using Facebook for free?  How about Google?  So much wonderful stuff on the internet is free because these companies know what we like/don't like based on our surfing habits, and can offer us targeted advertising.  This allows these websites to make money because the advertisers are happy, hence the websites give us a free service.  I actually enjoy getting targeted advertising occasionally.  There are even sites out there such as whose main purpose is to join products/services with the consumer, based on the consumer answering a bunch of questions about himself.  A lot of people really enjoy getting targeted advertising, which often results in special deals (Foursquare being a classic example).

Unfortunately, we are way too far along with the internet to go back and have the government set some privacy rules.  The U.S. Government was too slow.  Privacy is dead.  I do think there should obviously be some ground rules...that certain things online should be illegal, such as stealing credit card information.  However, is it really so wrong for companies to try to target folks who most want their products/services?  The consumer is the ultimate winner when this occurs.

So what do you think?  Am I totally off-base?

1 comment:

  1. I agree, I would rather see ads for stuff I might want than for stuff I would never want or use.