• http://rockfi.sh steveplunkett

    Great Article.. good reporting, thank you.

  • http://invisibleproperty.tumblr.com/ I.P.

    Spot on. If people knew that their data was being stored and used properly, with genuine benefits for them, there would be much less call for opt-outs.

    Personally, I think this reassurance starts with introducing proportionate penalties for the management of companies which fail to protect data – treating this as though they had gone to your house and unlocked the doors, knowing that thieves could walk in.

  • dstiehr

    Grandstanding senators railing on about cookies and tracking seems ludicrous to me when a significant percentage of the population is more than willing to put their name, location, workplace, school, likes, dislikes, personal photos, etc. on Facebook for the world to see forever, and a growing number is willing to share their exact location with the world at all times via Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.

    i would much rather be tracked with cookies than put every detail of my life on blast in a permanent online record where anyone can see it and build a profile of me right down to my name and face.

    I get that the difference is one is being consented to and one is not, but it just seems strange that privacy is sacred when it comes to not being served a BT ad, but privacy is meh when it comes to actual FB profiles. Maybe the reality is if ppl don’t care enough about privacy to not share all these overt personal info on the web, there’s no point in crying “privacy violation” about cookies.

  • jud

    Greg, I’m happy to see you writing about this. I’m afraid though that these arguments are unlikely to reach, let alone bend legislative ears.

  • http://www.breadcrumbssolutions.com P.M.

    Cool animation by Breadcrumbs Solutions that explains online privacy hazards

  • SFGreg

    Some people like to go to little hole in the wall places to eat. Maybe the place is in a dangerous neighborhood and it looks like a dive, but they’ve heard the sandwiches there are amazing.

    Just don’t pay by credit card, or your credit score could take a dive.

    I’ve heard that by tracking purchases, credit card companies can tell if you’re expecting a baby, and can predict if a divorce is in the cards. Why would someone who lives and works in the same zip code have a string of one day stays at a hotel in that same zip code?

    A way to tone down the witch hunt claims about cookies might be to suggest that regulations about tracking apply universally – not just to the web, but also to credit card tracking and the use of that information.

    Goofy claims about cookies won’t go away if we are tone deaf regarding legitimate claims. Instead of denial, people who are in the know (us) should come up with a top ten list of abuses and present that to Congress along with a request for pragmatic regulations that will effectively deal with genuine problems.

    I’ve yet to see a post like that in SEL. How about it?

  • Ian Williams

    I work in the UK and am genuinely surprised by the wholesale adoption of the EU directive by the British government. The lack of consultancy with the industry is obvious. It feels like a snap decision, borne out of a European mistrust of new, large, web industries like Facebook and Google, more than an actual meditation on important privacy issues.

    I do think that this legislation will be trimmed back, but only in a few years when people start realising that site experience has ‘mysteriously’ got worse, they receive a deluge of useless ads, and have to eternally remember their passwords and settings or click disclaimers every five minutes.

  • http://www.hotels4u.com Pete

    I am also in the UK and totally agree with Ian’s comments above about the government not consulting the web industry.

    Following on from his point I was explaining to my grandparents this weekend about this EU directive and how it will effect their experience online. After I had explained about cookies, how the majority of web companies use the data collected and what the EU directive will mean for their online experience they agreed that they would rather have cookies being put in place so that they would get ads that were actually relevant to them rather than some useless ads and get ads that were actually relevant to their interests.

    I also explained that there would be multiple ticking of disclaimers or pop ups asking them for permission every time a website wanted to put a cookie on their machine to remember a password or track them through analytics and they didn’t like this idea either as they would find this very annoying. Once they were educated about the uses of cookies on sites they were happier with the idea of them. I have a feeling this will be the reaction of many internet users in the UK and if we could just educate people more about the use of cookies and their data they would be a lot happier about what we are trying to do.

  • http://www.reavely.com Simon Reavely

    Good article…for me this part is key:
    “But people also want free services and generally would rather see “relevant” ads than low-quality generic ads that have absolutely nothing to do with them. The online advertising industry has done a dismal job of educating consumers about some of the benefits of targeted ads and how they subsidize free content online. Part of that is attributable to arrogance and paternalism: what consumers don’t know won’t hurt them. That attitude will no longer work however.”

    …good stuff!