This is the summary of an article by Omer Tene. It talks about the “Do Not Track” proposal being the subject of much debate and discussion, in line with talks dealing with whether behavioral targeting is really helpful or not. Here’s the link to the original article: To Track or “Do Not Track” – That is the Question.
Ever since the “Do Not Track” proposal was put forward by the Federal Trade Commission, it has been the subject of much debate and discussion. This is mainly because it involves the practice of behavioral tracking online, thereby leading to talks about several important issues, mostly concerning privacy and consumer rights.
A Heated Debate
For the past several years the practices of gathering, processing, and analyzing of online information have increased, with many companies utilizing the latest technologies in “tracking” and studying the activities of Internet users. Inevitably, this has caused uproar and heated discussions, mainly about privacy and more recently, the Do Not Track proposal.
Amidst the ongoing talks, some are keen to point out a more serious underlying issue: the question of whether behavioral tracking is truly helpful or harmful to the society as a whole.
A Complex System
Meanwhile, another aspect that has been discussed about regarding the matter is the general nature of the online environment. Some describe the Internet as a system that is getting more and more complicated by the minute. To begin with, most ordinary users never really had to be concerned with the inner workings of the Web. As a result, the sudden need to be aware and make decisions about their online actions could be a burden. Because of this, information about who performs behavioral tracking, how it is done, and options available to the user should be well presented and explained.
Consequently, even if users become informed and aware of the online privacy options available to them, transparency of communication among all stakeholders involved must be continuously enforced. Of course, this ideal environment is very much easier said than done, especially since changes in economy, technology, and other aspects of life are constantly happening.
The setting of boundaries and regulations is one more aspect that must be dealt with. While users are faced with the responsibility of self-monitoring their online activities more closely, the companies who conduct behavioral tracking should also adhere to some rules and policies concerning the practice. In a preliminary report, the Federal Trade Commission suggested some online practices that are “commonly accepted.” By adhering to these practices and doing some self-monitoring themselves, companies engaged in tracking can do so without stepping on anybody’s rights.
At the moment, it seems that discussions about behavioral tracking and the proposed legislations concerning it will continue for some time. These talks are sure to go on until such a time when everyone involved – the users, companies, lawmakers – agree on what to do. Nevertheless, it is a matter that must be addressed, especially in this day and age, when more and more communication and transaction activities are being done through the Internet.