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.

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Comments on “Is Personalized Advertising An Invasion Of Privacy?”

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Peter Cranstone (user link) says:

Is personalized advertising an invasion of privacy

I don’t think so if the user has the ability to “opt-in”. Our company has a product for WM5 that allows the user to decide exactly what he wants to share in the way of personal information. It even has a GPS option which if “check on” will stream actual location information to a web server so they can serve up a “local ad”. It’s all about making the user experience better. Reduce the friction in the transaction by giving the control back to the customer.

Remember this is important on mobile because of the limited data entry, so if a customer does want to see a local ad and then clicks on it, from that point on the less data he has to enter the better.



Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Is personalized advertising an invasion of pri

“It’s all about making the user experience better”

If I enjoy “Product A” and I happen to be traveling around different locations relating to more information regarding “Product A”, I would most likely already know much about “Product A” and would not need to see sub-quality “Product A” competition advertisements. This would make browsing the Internet much more difficult because I would now have to weed through crap regarding “Product A”s competition. Whereas, advertising “Product B” (A completely different product type), I can completely ignore these ads because they are in no way similar to “Product A” type.

Also, If I was once looking around for information regarding “Product A” and I found that information, what use is it to keep sending me information regarding “Product A” two weeks later… after I have already purchased “Product A” and no longer need information on it.

Its like hunting around for details on a new car purchase, say a Lexus GS450 (for example)… and then after I’ve already purchased that Lexus, 2 weeks later I continue to get advertisements for other vehicles – like I’m going to run out and buy another vehicle…again, I don’t think so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Is personalized advertising an invasion of

lol. Riiight.

So you’re complaining that the mirid of advertisements out there would make your life worse if they were targeted to things you actually like rather than crap you don’t care about? Why? Because you are going to be forced to view these targeted ads more than the current ones? That logic is just plain dumb.

“Product A” and “Product B” are identical in their nature – they’re ads. You have the ability to choose to ignore both equally. Dude, I think you need to lay off the dope and rethink the concept of what you are and are not in control of.

ThinkAboutIt says:

Of course its a privacy issue

Of course they scan your email content and hook appropriate advertisement to it. You send an email to someone saying you are thinking of buying a Honda and want their opinion, maybe an ad for a Ford comes along with the reply.

Is this an invasion of privacy? Maybe the advertiser doesn’t know you, but Google or some other provider sure as hell does.

Google may well in fact be a government front to collect more information on its citizens. Yeah, and you really believed that “do no evil” bull?

Anonymous Coward says:

All you have to do is lie

1) Setup your account to be a old, poor, female, non-advertiser friendly minority (american indian usally works) You only get the really exploitative ads “work from home” “earn millions by sleeping” “Free iPod” “Payday advance today” and so on.

2) Set up your account to be a white male from marin county or manhatten and a household income of $150,000 or greater, and you get ads for “Rental Property in the hamptons” “Forbes top 10 gadgets you need” “Is platiunum the new silver?” and so on.

Click on all of them.

The System works.

Technopolitical (profile) says:

Re: Is personalized advertising an invasion

saw an article at the NY Times , about googling yourself ,, so being I have not googled myself , in a little while ,, and I needed a cigge anyway,,, and found this ould post of mine , under another username,, that I still use often else where .

Just for the record , to help people find (tech) dirt on me


Most People Google Themselves Now —
Jenna Wortham says: More than half of adult Americans are now searching their names on Google on a regular basis.

thinkaboutit says:

It has less to do with how you define or describe yourself and what you do. Advertisers don’t care what you say or what bogus forms you fill out, they care about what you actually do. buy, talk about and want.

Google knows what you search for, what your emails talk about, who you talk with etc. Course, that’s only if you use Gmail.

sal shepherdl says:

“Google knows what you search for, what your emails talk about, who you talk with etc. Course, that’s only if you use Gmail.”

If you use a google account they follow all of it, similarto what yahoo has been doing for years, and now MS as well. None of them is a consumer advocate in my opinion. They just do whatever they can get away with. If they push too far they retract. Anyone rememebers google web accelerator?

lil'bit says:

But is it really a violation of your privacy if all that is done is scan for key words? I never thought I would be taking this side of the issue – must just be playing devil’s advocate. But if the ISP or whoever is onbly scan for key words like Hoinda or Ford or even car and new within a certain distance from each other (one ot two words) and send adverts when they hit those key words – is it reasonable to expect that they don’t take any more info out of your email?

When they can develop a spell-check that can recognize that I spelled too when I meant to and correct it – that’s when I’ll really start worrying about privacy in this context.

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