Is Online Commercial Tracking Really So Bad?

Industry and government are pushing back against commercial Internet tracking, but most consumers don't mind the intrusion too much. In fact, many even appreciate the tracking. 

What's the Latest Development?


Industry and government are beginning to push back against Internet tracking but will it hurt the nearly $40 billion online advertising industry? Microsoft's forthcoming Internet Explorer 10 will be the first to make "Do Not Track" a default setting. "Earlier this year President Barack Obama endorsed 'Do Not Track,' a browser technology that would limit tracking and potentially block ads like Amazon's that target you based on your past Web surfing." Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla, has created an add-on to his company's browser that lets users see all the different entities tracking them online. 

What's the Big Idea?

Satellite images, Google Street View and data mash-ups have made it ever-harder to maintain control over information once considered private. But what harm is there really in commercial tracking? That's difficult to say, in part because Internet technologies are expanding the definition of what constitutes "harm." The Federal Trade Commission now says privacy-related harms need not be economic or physical, but "can include practices that 'unexpectedly reveal previously private information' like purchasing habits."

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