Wednesday, February 03, 2010

FTC holds roundtable on digital privacy; concern over the "one-way-mirror" world

The Federal Trade Commission held a roundtable last week (Jan. 28) on privacy in the digital age, sponsored by the University of California law school. The San Francisco Chronicle has an important story by James Temple, “All eyes on online privacy,” link here.

A lot of this has to do with potentiality (a concept that at one time high school teachers graded us on!) Cell phones, car GPS, wireless laptops, all kinds of devices would allow someone with “bad education” and stalking intentions to track someone, and companies are increasingly sophisticated in their ability to monitor and analyze the browsing habits of Internet visitors.

There is controversy as to whether younger adults really are willing to share more information online than were members of their parents’ generations.

Pam Dixon, of the World Privacy Forum, has urged adoption of a measure requiring that Internet marketing companies delete user information within 24 hours. The WPC presented a report “The One-Way-Mirror Society: Privacy Implications of the New Digital Signage Networks”, link here.

It’s important, however, to remember that the “free entry” model that enables not only social media as we have gotten used to since 2005 but also older forms of self-publishing around since the late 1990s, depends ultimately on effective advertising, and a willingness of consumers to have items of greatest potential interest shown to them. (These days, I seem to get a lot of ads from Netflix. I suppose that’s because of behavioral advertising.)

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