Government is always good for a laugh… Do-Not-Track-Online Bill

Definitely a fan of good government and all, but there’s some things are just…. ummm…. quaint.

Senate Committee On Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Jay Rockefeller introduced a comprehensive new Do-Not-Track-Online Bill on Monday that would grant the FTC new broader powers to insure that consumers are given the right to opt out of online tracking technologies. The bill also empowers the FTC to fine companies who do not honor Do Not Track mandates.

Good old chest-thumping and preening for the people who may not fully understand – always such a fun picture of politics.  While there is a need to try to keep some semblance of “privacy” the ship has set sail long before WWW come along – Anyone remember the chance to win a great new car by filling out a card and stuffing it in a box? Some broad stroke attempts to solve everything adds waste and, most certainly, less clarity about what really is of key import.  For the most part, the general public don’t truly understand what is meant by tracking – even those who are in the industry.  Hell, some parts of the technology, algorithms and intricacies are more confusing than the Tax Code.

Yes – something should be done. To a certain extent, as an industry, we should have a body – perhaps like the MPAA for Movies – to work out what the standards should be.  But when you look at this Bill, it is so roundabout that it really doesn’t stand for anything.

Most practices that are being railed against are related to helping make content and advertising more relevant. So what if its annoying to see banner ads for Lamps Plus when I bought my lamps a month ago?  It certainly better than seeing feminine hygiene products (just-sayin’ as a male…) or Pepsodent ads.  There are definitely technologies on their way that will present more timely and relevant marketing to user’s needs.

What does one do when they are concerned about how much they are being tracked? At this point, it’s not much. But there do seem to be soutions coming.  One of the ones that intrigues me is Evidon – essentially an overlay button on banners where you click on an icon to see what led to being served the ad (how you’re being tracked.)  If anything, it gives people peace of mind as they realize its kosher and they can change settings if they would like.  I liken it to the self-regulating form factor of film ratings that the MPAA came up with when there were fears of censorship.

Ultimately, it reminds us of the lovely, Do-Not-Call List. How’s that working out for you?

There are things that are more scarier – and with MUCH larger ramifications when it comes to digital media, privacy and storage – that should be addressed by the government if they are so inclined to preen. The Laugh/Joke is on us when HUGE amounts of personal information are “stolen” from Sony (PS3) or the US Military, or even Bank of America Credit Card Databases like mine was. 

Have some good laughs while Googling email database stolen to put yourself in the right frame of mind when pondering whether the Do-Not-Track List is paramount in your life.


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