Friday, January 2, 2009

The Privacy Lobby

(The privacy lobby, hmm -- sounds like something out of Eyes Wide Shut... the password is Fidelio.)

I just came across this piece in Media Post about a group of privacy advocates that recently met with Obama's FTC transition team to "urge that the government more aggressively regulate the online advertising industry."

One of those advocates, Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection at the Consumer Federation of America is referenced as saying, "her organization was concerned that some consumers could face tangible consequences due to behavioral targeting. For instance, she said, companies could potentially use information gleaned from tracking people online to make different offers to different people."

Stop the presses! Companies could use online data to show different offers to different people!?! We must get the word out! This could be catastrophic. Imagine if all those erectile dysfunction emails were only sent to older men. Of if ads for diapers were only shown to adults with young children. How infuriating would that be!?!

As folks who are hip to my Highly Targeted eBay experiment will know, I believe we need to focus less on protecting consumer's privacy and more on helping them profit from all the data that's available about them online. Rather than spook people with stories of big brother watching, let's show them the value their data offers to marketers such as, gasp... providing different offers to different people.

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