In the ongoing saga of internet privacy, Google, Facebook and Apple are seeing more and more groups wanting government legislation requiring the internet behemoths and any others who track private information to stop what they are doing. For those who don’t want to wait for legislation there is the option of litigation and it appears quite a few law offices will be making some money with this option in the upcoming years.
So what’s the big deal recently about online privacy?
Privacy concerns online aren’t new but as Facebook and Google especially offer advertisers a way to hone in on their marketing to niche audiences instead of mass marketing it’s something more are becoming aware of. Media outlets everywhere are talking about the invasion every time one of the ‘big guys’ of the internet ups the ‘follow you around’ ante. It happens frequently and we can blame the big corporations with billions of dollars to spend on advertising for it all.
Capitalism is based on the law of supply and demand: we’ll supply it if you demand it. Corporations have found though that with the proper marketing they can now change that principle. They instead advertise you must have it and only we can provide it therefore making it necessary to change other marketing strategies too.
It used to be that if a business was to advertise they flooded the airwaves and print with ads hoping they’d find the right people to buy what it was they sold. When online organizations started selling advertising it was based on the same principle: inundate everyone! That quickly changed when programmers were able to find a way to track who was buying or looking for what, where they were looking and how often they were talking about it.
This then created the lightbulb going off over someone’s head effect. If we can specifically track buying habits, we can in turn let advertisers know who to zone in on in their marketing for a better return on marketing dollar investment and we ourselves can charge more for it too making OUR return on investment higher. It was a win/win scenario for all the businesses involved. Unfortunately it turned into a losing state of affairs for us, the consumer.
As with most things that start off with good intentions, along the way the ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’ approach takes over. Most of us didn’t care when about someone listening when we talked on Facebook or know what we searched for when using Google. After a while that information would be purged and it was kind of nice to see ads for things that we might be interested in purchasing. Then we found out that big corporations wanted more specific information for their marketing so the online ‘big guys’ complied by checking your online habits even more.
Now we’ve come to the point where there is hardly a place you be online without being tracked in some manner or another. Where will it end? The days of Orwell’s 1984 can’t be that far off. Certainly there are privacy statements available to be read so that legally it can be done, but is that enough?
With telephones you have the option of ‘Do Not Call’ to keep the telemarketers away. Since technology gives us the ability to track and disseminate our online habits, it would certainly be possible to devise a program that would give those of us who choose the option to ‘Do Not Track’. Think of all the hassle that would eliminate. Corporations both online and offline might lose a few bucks in the process while lobbyists and attorneys will have to find another source of income, but in the end the right of privacy will be put back in the hands of the people.
What do you think? Is a ‘Do Not Track’ option something you’d like to see available or am I just out in left field? Let’s talk about it.