What is it with Washington bureaucrats that they fundamentally cannot understand the internet? Are we seriously stuck with: "The internet is a series of tubes?" -- I just love citing that.
This time it's another group of luddites in Congress on a crusade. You see, privacy is such a wonderful issue for "idiotarians" to jump on the bandwagon with. It's easy fodder. You'll never get consumers screaming for companies to gather more information about them and use it to target ads at them. "Oh, yes, please, can I have more personal data gathered about me? I'd like another ad please. That would be scrumptious!"
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the dangers of online social networks and what you reveal to the world. I am not against data gathering by companies, but we should all be more cognizant of what we put out there. The crucial point in all of this is that although consumers will never ask for more ads, what they will do is respond to advertising that is relevant to them, that speaks to their consumer needs. "Wow, I am running more, it was good to find out about that new shoe and that race coming up that I can enter locally." That's never something that someone would say out loud, but that internal voice we all have constantly pings all day, every day, with the advertising we consume. Consumers value, subconsciously, that we have that data when it benefits them. The problem is that even though it benefits them, they don't really want to know what we used to deliver it. They just assume it was happenstance. Well, how did that ad really speak to that consumer's need state? Yes, yes, simple answer: behavioral targeting.
A bill is currently in the New York State Assembly presented by Sen. Richard L. Brodsky (Dem.), (alas, sometimes I really hate my own party,) that would essentially require a user to give explicit permission before companies could link the anonymous surfing data to their name, address or phone number.
(The bill would essentially make it a crime for certain internet companies to use personal information about consumers without their consent.)
Wow, that's just great, Senator. Are you really that stupid? Uh, yeah, people are going to flock to do that. Since when did this country become a bunch of choice-less lemmings? "The television program is offensive." Well, then change the channel, you moron. You don't even have to get your fat, lazy butt out of your Lazy Boy. Just press the button! Someone can't opt-out? Oh no, the consumer is not bright enough to do that. Yes, let's assume everyone in society is an idiot -- that really helps the situation. Let's coddle, control, and regulate our way to happiness, while the lumps of flesh watching the pict-o-cube sit there consuming in ignorant bliss.
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