Technology and Business Law Blog

Targeted Advertising on the Internet

-The biggest gripe against social networking sites is invasion of privacy. Even as these social networking companies tout that they will not share the users personal information with others and has statements of respecting privacy on their websites we all know that it is not completely adhered to. Every time we shop or pay bills on-line our personal information is being disseminated a little bit more, it is a slow unnoticeable leak which spreads around without causing waves. The other day I was shopping at the Disney store and the cashier asked me for my home phone number and my zip code and like most people I in an auto reflex and preprogrammed manner gave it to her, and after about half an hour I went back to the same store and bought another toy for my child and the cashier once again asked the same questions “what is your home phone number?” and your “zip code please” and I told her I just gave that information a little while ago and she replied we have to get that every time you buy sometime, and when I told her I did not want to give my home phone number she got a bit cold and unfriendly.

For some reason when we go outside the house and in a commercial setting or when we fill out forms for various reasons we just automatically fill in all the information that is asked for in the various headings starting from out date of birth to social security number without thinking or asking why is this being asked and is it a requirement or what if I don’t give all this information being asked.

It is all over the news about how Facebook is expanding its business through targeting advertising by sharing the users online purchases with the user’s “friends” without really giving opt out options and by displaying private purchases made on the Facebook News Feeds. Now I don’t want my friends to know where and what under clothes or hygiene products I shop for or use and definitely don’t want it being shared automatically with the other users on Facebook without my permission.

Also when we use or search for something on the Internet using search engines like Yahoo or Google we are being tracked and even if this information is not being shared openly with the world our online movements are totally exposed and the only alternative is not to use the Internet. Now is that possible in today’s wired world where all that we need even to conduct our day to day business is connected to the Internet?

The European Union has a balanced approach to these issues and has placed a time limit on search engines retaining the web search information. The EU also has greater restrictions on divulging information and has stricter privacy policies. Since Facebook’s advertising program delivers ads based on user interests and those of their friends, so it may be a target for future EU crack down. Read Article here.

November 26, 2007 Posted by | EU, Facebook, privacy, Targeted advertising | 1 Comment