FTC's Proposed Rules Over Internet Privacy
Posted: April 22, 2011
I know I am a dying breed, but I don't do any banking on the Internet and I try to avoid shopping online whenever possible. I'm not sure why I don't trust punching in my credit card number on the computer to make a purchase or a personal identification number to transfer money or pay bills, but I prefer to physically buy and pay for things.
I have a Facebook account because it's the thing to do, but I very rarely visit my site or offer much information about myself to the rest of the Internet social network. There is something about telling acquaint-enances about my likes and dislikes that seems creepy to me.
For these reasons, I probably won't be affected much by a proposal being offered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect individual privacy on the Internet.
The FTC has proposed rules that limit how advertisers use information provided by shoppers to track what people like. The advertisers subsequently send Internet shoppers targeted messages promoting products and services. Although advertisers are obviously opposed to the new rules, there has been a surprisingly small number of individuals who are offended by the practice.
A recent study by DoubleVerify found that, of five billion advertising impressions, only about 100,000, or 0.002 percent, resulted in a click on the icon to learn more about the system distributing the advertisement. Of the people who did click to learn more about how the advertisers collect information about them, only one percent then opted out of the behavior-targeted advertising program. That means the opt-out rate was only 0.00002 percent. Apparently, people seem to have adjusted to the new technology. It's the regulators that can't handle change.
Of course, the reason nobody takes the time to opt out of the targeted advertising system is because the advertisers promise e-mail shoppers special deals on products that are important to the buyer. It appears most Web users don't mind sharing personal information in exchange for benefits on products or services.
In all likelihood, Congress will not be passing any measures approving the FTC's new rules over Internet privacy anytime soon. I guess if half of all Americans over the age of 12 have a Facebook account, then a majority of society doens't have a problem telling strangers everything about themselves already. Those who shop online might as well take advantage of any deals that may come their way. Even if the whole process seems a bit creepy.