This editorial argues against a set of privacy protections known as “Do Not Track.” It might be worth noting who the editorialist works for and what he does for a living.
Anonymous user data is far more than just a lens for ad delivery; for many startups, it’s the life’s blood of innovation. Once upon a time, a startup called Amazon revolutionized online retail, in part by leveraging behavioral shopping data that it gathered about its customers: by all accounts, this data has become a core piece of its shopping recommendation engine.
Similarly, Netflix uses anonymous, real-time user data to inform recommendations for its customers. The data Trulia processes helps real estate agents improve their listings, and enables consumers to buy or sell homes at the optimal time. Groupon uses mobile location data, as well as anonymous information on users’ habits and interests, to help local businesses deliver daily deals to the right consumer at the right time and place.
The common denominator among all of these companies is that they use anonymous data to gain insight into their customers’ favorite activities, interests, and connections, enabling them to create highly valuable online experiences that otherwise would have been impossible to deliver. Is the FTC or W3C really aiming to prevent the next Amazon or Netflix from emerging?
Don’t take it on faith that the FTC will do what’s in the best interest of users and businesses. In fact, the agency is under intense pressure from many within the W3C and other privacy hawks to do just the opposite. To ensure that our economy keeps on its path of recovery, you need to lend your voice to the debate. Start by contacting your representative in Congress and let him or her know your position. You can also reach the FTC directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contribute to the discussion online by tweeting your view at “#KeeptheWebFree #DNTrack #W3C.” There’s simply too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.