TAG | Policy
In the March episode of The Privacy Blog Podcast, I’ll run down some of the major privacy news events of the last month. Learn how Facebook “Likes” can paint an extremely detailed and eerie picture of your real-life character traits. I’ll provide my take on Google’s Street View Wi-Fi sniffing controversy along with how “Do Not Track” flags are affecting the everyday Internet user. We’ll then touch on the implementation of the “Six Strikes” copyright alert system that was recently adopted by all five major ISP providers.
Stay tuned until the end of the episode to hear about Anonymizer’s exciting new beta program for Android and iOS devices. Thanks for listening!
While I am encouraged to see the recently announced Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, it is no reason to become complacent about your privacy.
First, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights is a set of fairly general statements. It is unclear if or when we would see real enforcement.
Second, it will be very difficult to enforce this against non-US services, and it is almost impossible for a user to know if some or all of a website she is visiting is being provided by a non-US company.
Third, it is very difficult to tell if the policies are being violated. Unless the website uses the information directly and immediately it is very hard to tie the use of information back to the source of the information. If it is being silently collected, you really can’t tell.
While such policies and statements of principle are a good thing, and one hopes that most major websites will get on board with them, if you actually want to ensure your privacy, you need to take matters into your own hands.
Block cookies, clear out old cookies, and hide your IP address with tools like Anonymizer Universal.
The WSJ reports on a recent FTC report endorsing the concept of a universal “do not track” registry similar to the “do not call” list. Predictably the advertising companies are unhappy, and privacy advocated are cheering.
I think that some kind of outside regulation is necessary and inevitable. Self regulation has not worked, and is very unlikely to work in the future. The self interest of the targeted marketers is too diametrically opposed to the principles of transparency and personal control.
The WSJ quotes Rob Norman, chief executive of WPP PLC’s GroupM North America, which buys ads on behalf of corporate clients as whining “FTC endorses ‘do not track’; an emotional goodbye to free content so kindly funded by advertisers.” Lets be clear, there is no “kindly” about it. This is all about making money for the advertiser. The “free content” is simply a delivery vehicle for ads.
Right now the exchange of information and access to the viewer is implicit. This proposal makes it explicit. I see no reason why sites could not, or should not, be set up to require users to opt in to be able to access the content. I would then have the ability to choose to opt out, go elsewhere, or pay to be free of tracking.
The rapidly increasing use of “evercookies” and other very hard to remove tracking techniques shows just how resistant to user control these companies really are. Where the tools and standards exist for users to delete tracking information, the marketing companies are creating new tools to make your choices ineffective.
As if more proof were needed, the marketing companies suggest opting out through their about ads website. Of course, if you want to opt out, you must enable third party cookies on your browser, which simultaneously exposes you to much more effective and intrusive monitoring.
Anonymizer will continue to innovate with new technologies to stay ahead of this arms race with tools like our new “Nevercookie” plugin.