Advertising – Two-Thirds of Americans Object to Online Tracking, Study Says – NYTimes.com

Advertising – Two-Thirds of Americans Object to Online Tracking, Study Says – NYTimes.com.

I’m not surprised! If you explain to people the intricacies of online tracking of the sites they visit and what they do there and how that can lead to the creation of “models” of their lives that can be used for marketing it sounds very creepy.

I absolutely believe that we should have the right to examine the data companies have on me and correct and / or delete it. Just being given that right would make me feel happier – even if I did not use it.

The data collected may not be in any way accurate or reflective of who I am or what I want. Last night I did a lot of research on the prices of cameras for my blog post on the prices in different markets. I bet my model now shows I am seriously hunting for a new camera and I’ll get lots of promotions. No! Just research.

Similarly many people share a computer without logging into different accounts. If a family or group of friends do this the resulting data will be a hopeless tangle.

Of course for sure people appreciate the free services they get that are supported by these models. I don’t pay for any of the internet services I use but I probably cost them a bundle. My regular sites include:

  • WordPress – 2 free blogs.
  • Flickr – 2 free accounts.
  • Picasa Web – 3 free accounts.
  • Yahoo mail.
  • Google Gmail.
  • Google Fast Flip – read every day.
  • New York Times – read every day.
  • BBC News – read every day.
  • The Economist – read every week.

The list goes on and on.

What if the companies concerned said: “if you don’t want us to collect data on you, you must pay for the services”? What would I do?

I think I’d reduce my usage a lot and pay for the services I use most.

Of course, today, even if you do pay the companies still track you.

It is great that in the US and Europe people are very conscious of this tracking and are forcing the companies to be more open. I don’t think the same thing happens here in Asia. People have few legal rights and the companies are most opaque. I prefer the western system, even though it is complex and confusing.

What do you think? How many services would you use if they were not free?

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