Privacy Concerns May Soon Be Addressed

Posted: December 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

George Orwell’s famous expression, “Big Brother is always watching” is prevalent today in many aspects of our society, especially on the internet. Advertising companies have taken the role of big brother and are able to look into anyone’s web browser to see their history. This allows them to gear their ad displays toward the particular viewer. There are some ways to prevent this privacy infringement such as setting your browsing to private. People that aren’t very tech savvy probably aren’t aware of this or know how to privatize their internet viewing, if they were to choose to. The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to step in and change this advertising technique for good.

According to the New York Times article by Edward Wyatt and Tanzina Vega, the F.T.C. is trying to institute a “do not track” mechanism that compares to the national “do not call” registry that protects Americans from frustrating telemarketers. The mechanism will hopefully create an easy way for people to privately browse the internet. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with having ads directed at my personal preferences since I’d rather see advertisements about products I might want to purchase as opposed to items I have absolutely no interest in. The problem occurs when people begin to use the information collected from public browsing to steal identities and obtain private records.

However, this isn’t a good sign for online advertisers. Since the internet was created to be shared freely by everyone it’s not built to make money. There is also the dollar-dime concept in which every ad in print that’s worth a dollar is worth a dime on the internet. These factors have made it difficult for advertisers to function efficiently. The ability to gear ads towards the individual has allowed them to gain an edge in a tough market. That edge may be taken away by the F.T.C. soon.

I choose not to utilize private browsing for the convenience of my browser remembering websites I visit and being able to automatically fill out identity information on particular forms. With HTML 5 looming in the near future, which could take the need for privacy restrictions to a different level, I may change my mind. Where does the rest of America stand? If the F.T.C. gets their way, that answer will reveal itself in the near future.

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