You know how annoyed celebrities get with the paparazzi. How would you feel knowing you’re being tracked as well just not out in the open? The Federal Trade Commission has been tracking your digital footprint online for a year now, and recently coined the term “cyberazzi” to explain how online tracking works.
The FTC says, “Like the paparazzi who follow celebrities, online cookies and other data catchers follow consumers as they browse, reporting their every stop and action to many of you in this room who, in turn, collect an astonishingly complete profile of consumer behavior online.”
In a speech, Chairman Leibowitz told Ad: Tech NY, “A consumer who has no problem revealing her browsing history to advertising companies targeting their pitches to her interests may feel very differently about the collection of that information if it’s going to the financial company deciding whether to give her a mortgage, or the health insurer setting her rates, or the prospective employer determining her career path.”
The FTC proposed a “Do Not Track” option to cut down on the information that is collected while you surf online. The FTC wants it to act like the Do Not Call list, although, some question how feasible that is. Tracking IP addresses would be more complicated than a phone number. While the FTC has championed the “Do Not Track” list, it says it should not be run by the government like the Do Not Call list. It’s pushing industry to run the program.
Industry has stepped up, and I’ve reported on many of their advances since my first Digital Footprint story a year ago. However, every browser is giving you different options to opt out of tracking information so consumers need to pay attention to the browser they are using. Also, a program called “Ad Choices” allows consumers to opt out of targeted advertising on websites that participate in the program.
However, it’s very difficult right now for consumers to keep up with all the changes and updates that companies add to supposedly give them an option of opting out of tracking of personal information. While the government is not interested in running the program, I hope they over-see it an criticize it if there are weaknesses. There needs to be a universal response or consumers will continue to unwillingly expose themselves.
Related links you may like:
Erasing your digital footprint
Browser upgrades add privacy and faster speeds
Google launches opt out option to protect your privacy
Will do not track be as easy as the do not call list