Is Personalized Advertising An Invasion Of Privacy?
from the a-little-touchy-eh? dept
Clearly, internet privacy is a pretty serious subject for a lot of people, and there's no doubt that the internet has created new avenues for invading and abusing one's privacy. But it does seem like some fears are a bit misplaced. Two public interest groups are petitioning the FTC to crack down on internet ad networks that serve targeted ads based on browsing patterns and user-supplied information, such as the form you fill out when opening up a Hotmail account. But does targeted advertising really constitute an abuse of privacy? The groups admit that a user's name isn't part of the data that goes into ads. So if someone who browses on fishing sites and does searches relating to fishing gets shown ads for fishing rods, then these groups don't like it. The complaint sounds a bit like the uproar over Gmail, when it was first announced. It would be one thing if companies were actually scanning the contents of your email, and then passing on your email address and name to companies that might pitch a product to you. But that's not what's going on. An automated system for matching advertising with users -- even if it is perfectly crafted to your tastes -- can't be an invasion of privacy if your actual identity isn't known or given out. It certainly seems like the FTC's time could be better spent on real abuses of privacy.