Web mechanisms to translate your Web browsing into a source of market
research for corporations. I had pointed out that folks should
exercise caution in using "free" list-server sources like OneList,
for the "freedom" they offer generally costs you something.
Below, an item from USATODAY.com; thought it might interest those of
you who care about privacy, new media use, etc. This is why I keep
the Cookies feature OFF on my browser. Always.
It is methods like these by which multinational corporations get
control of the food system, consolidate markets, and engineer
consumer consciousness. I do not believe that "playing along" is
effective--the medium is the message, and the message of the mass
media is consumption at all costs. To resist that means also coming
up with resistance forms of communication, that speak to the parts of
people who wish to disengage from this planet-gobbling culture in
which we're immersed.
Are you aware that some Web advertising/marketing companies consider
it "shoplifting" for someone to put software on their computer that
blocks banner ads from appearing when you call up a Web page that has
those? Seriously. The advertisers get individual Web sites to put
their ads on their sites, saying, we'll "give" you Thing X in return
for you placing this banner on your page. So now, everywhere you
turn, the hucksters are waving crap in your face, shrieking "Buy!
Buy! Consume! Eat up the earth!!!" And if you determine that you
choose not to turn your attention to them, that's "shoplifting."
In my view, the ability to determine where to put one's attention
(what to consume with the eyes/ears) is just as fundamental as the
ability to determine what to consume with the mouth. I not only don't
want Tony the Franken-Tiger in my breakfast bowl or belly, I don't
want the fuzzy mutant in my daily attention-scape.
Remain vigilant. Resist much. Obey little.
>01/25/00- Updated 05:17 PM ET
> Activists charge DoubleClick double cross
> Web users have lost privacy with the drop of a
>cookie, they say
> By Will Rodger, USATODAY.com
> Say goodbye to anonymity on the Web.
> DoubleClick Inc., the Internet's largest
>advertising company, has begun
> tracking Web users by name and address as they
>move from one Web site
> to the next, USATODAY.com has learned.
> The practice, known as profiling, gives
> marketers the ability to know the
> household, and in many cases the precise
> identity, of the person visiting any one of
> the 11,500 sites that use DoubleClick's
> ad-tracking "cookies."
> What made such profiling possible was
> DoubleClick's purchase in June of Abacus
> Direct Corp., a direct-marketing services
> company that maintains a database of
> names, addresses, telephone numbers and
> retail purchasing habits of 90% of
> American households.
> With the help of its online partners,
> DoubleClick can now correlate the
> Abacus database of names with people's
> Internet activities.
> Company spokeswoman Jennifer Blum
> said Tuesday that only about a dozen sites
> are participating now. But she
> acknowledged that DoubleClick would
> like all its partner sites to participate.
> DoubleClick defends the practice,
> insisting that it allows better targeting of
> online ads -- and thus makes consumers'
> online experiences at once more relevant
> and more profitable for advertisers. The company
>calls it "personalization."
> Consumer advocates have another term for it:
> After being informed of DoubleClick's actions,
>several privacy activists said
> they would file a formal complaint with the
>Federal Trade Commission next
> "This is a blatant bait-and-switch trick," says
>Jason Catlett of Junkbusters
> Inc., an Internet-privacy consultancy. "For four
>years they have said (their
> services) don't identify you personally, and now
>they're admitting they are
> going to identify you."
> To tie Doubleclick's "anonymous" records of your
>surfing habits to its
> Abacus database, it needs only the cooperation of
>another site that can
> identify you positively.
> Futuristic though that sounds, positive
>identification is actually simple.
> DoubleClick need only tie your cookie to another
>one placed by a site that
> ships you something through the mail, or one which
> To do that:
> DoubleClick sends a cookie to your browser and
>gives it a unique ID
> Doubleclick sends the same ID number on to the
>site that knows who you
> That company then sends back the data that
>DoubleClick needs to look
> you up in the Abacus database.
> And voila -- DoubleClick knows who you are, too.
> The combination of DoubleClick's cookie-derived
>information -- more than
> 100 million files -- with Abacus' database on the
>purchasing habits of 90
> million households means the vast majority of
> will likely lose their online anonymity, says
>David Banisar, deputy director of
> Privacy International.
> DoubleClick's Blum said she was not sure whether
>surfing habits tracked by
> DoubleClick before Abacus data are merged will be
>included in future
> DoubleClick executives maintain they still give
>users who don't want to be
> tracked a chance to opt out.
> "That person will receive notice that their
>personal information is being
> gathered," DoubleClick Executive Vice President
>and Abacus unit chief
> Jonathan Shapiro says flatly.
> Yet, that chance to opt out comes only in the form
>of a few lines of text
> placed in the privacy policies of participating
>Web sites. Since those policies
> are often buried two or three levels down, online
>consumers will seldom
> know what is being done with their personal
>information in the first place, let
> alone that they may opt out, activists say.
> "That is not permission," Banisar says. "That is
>fraudulent on its face."
> Catlett, Banisar and the Electronic Privacy
>Information Center plan to file a
> complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by Feb. 16.
> They say they will charge that DoubleClick has
>duped consumers by
> suggesting the company's technology lets them
>remain anonymous. They
> expect to enlist a wide array of consumer groups
>to back their position.
> Further troubling to privacy advocates is
>DoubleClick's refusal to say which
> Internet sites are furnishing them the
>registration rolls that DoubleClick needs
> to link once-anonymous cookies to names,
>addresses, phone numbers and
> catalog purchases.
> "The fact that DoubleClick is not disclosing the
>names of the companies who
> are feeding them consumers' names is a shameful
>hypocrisy," Catlett says.
> "They are trying to protect the confidentiality of
>the violators of privacy."
> Shapiro Tuesday bristled at Catlett's
>characterization. Any company that
> uses data from the Abacus database to target
>Internet ads must disclose it
> online, he says.
> Moreover, he adds, DoubleClick itself would hand
>over to privacy
> advocates the list of participating companies if
>it could. But as in many lines
> of business, partners frown when their
>relationships are disclosed without
> their permission, he says.
> "If they all bought a billboard and said they work
>with us, that would be
> great," Shapiro says.
> The controversy over DoubleClick began last
>summer, when the company
> announced it was buying Abacus Direct in a deal
>valued at more than $1
> Privacy experts had feared that DoubleClick would
>begin merging the two
> databases at some point. But they say they were
>unaware that DoubleClick
> had begun its profiling practice late last year.
> Before its Abacus purchase, DoubleClick had made
>its money by targeting
> banner advertisements in less direct ways.
> DoubleClick ad-serving computers, for instance,
>check the Internet
> addresses of people who visit participating sites.
>Thus, people in their homes
> may see ads different from those seen by workers
>at General Motors, or a
> machine-tool company in Ohio.
> Every time viewers see or click on those banners,
>DoubleClick adds that
> fact to individual dossiers it builds on them with
>the help of the cookies it
> drops on users' hard drives.
> Those dossiers, in turn, help DoubleClick target
>ads more precisely still,
> increasing their relevance to consumers and
>reducing unnecessary repetition.
> Those cookies remained anonymous to DoubleClick until now.
> Being tracked as they move around the Web "doesn't
>measure up to
> people's expectation on the Net," says Robert
>Smith, publisher of the
> newsletter Privacy Journal. "They don't think that
>their physical locations,
> their names will be combined with what they do on
>the Internet. If they
> (DoubleClick) want to do that they have to expose
>that plan to the public
> and have it discussed."
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