By the AllClear ID Team
Vanessa here with AllClear ID. Is Internet privacy a contradiction in terms? I recently read two interesting opinions â€“ one for and one against â€“ from two proponents in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, writes that everyone has a different comfort level regarding the collection and use of their personal information. However, most online data-gathering and profiling activities are largely invisible to consumers.Â Potentially harmful effects of these tracking tools include: targeting economically-distressed people with payday loans and subprime mortgages; engaging in discriminatory pricing in which some people are offered products or services at higher prices than others; and targeting children.
She supports a â€œdo not trackâ€ mechanism across all web browsers that people can use to express their online tracking preferences. â€œIf individuals see the value of behaviorally targeted ads, they can affirmatively opt in,â€ Givens writes. â€œIf they do not, online advertisers can continue with more traditional yet still lucrative practices.â€
On the opposite end is Michael Robertson, a high-tech entrepreneur who founded the music-downloading site MP3.com, whose op-ed is titled â€œPrivacy Overreaction Will Slow Progress.â€ First off, corporate abuse of online data-gathering is rare, he writes. â€œCorporations understand that customers wonâ€™t do business with those who break their trust and reveal personal data to others. The inherent profit motive acts as a highly effective policing agent for companies to guard this data.â€
Second, cracking down on online data gathering will inhibit valuable inventions and benefits for people in the future. â€œJust as a stop sign at every intersection in our roadways would render them inefficient and impractical â€“ defeating the very purpose of the infrastructure â€“ the same is true on the digital highway,â€ Robertson writes. â€œAllowing unimpeded communication from my fridge to my belt to my grocery cart to my doctor is the exact behavior that will unleash ever greater value to consumers.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.