Sunday, October 18, 2009

Body or Barter?

Whenever I surf the net, which is admittedly quite often, I often see ads that seem to be specifically targeted at me. For example, I see a lot of ads for anything related to, let's say, "zombies". But I'm not sure if it's because of my age, my habits, my income, etc. Or is it just a coincidence that I play video games associated with that theme? :)

It's an emerging and increasingly ubiquitous marketing technique called "behavioral advertising", and it's based on where you go and what you do on the web. (FYI: each computer on the internet has a unique "IP address" which discloses certain information about the user).

Is your data (ie., information about you) "body or barter"? (in the words of UPenn professor Joseph Turow, who blogs here) Meaning, is it something that naturally is your property, or is it something you can choose to trade away for some kind of benefit, like ads that appeal to you or discounts on products you buy?

And yet it may be too late to pose that particular question. After all, consider how much data you have already given to various sites you use like Facebook, Google, Pandora, etc. Consider how much data your parents have given to grocery stores via loyalty card programs. As we transition to our next unit, is the right to privacy absolute? Where does the digital domain fit in to this civil liberty?

An interview with Joe Turow:


DPark said...

I feel like privacy is one of the unspoken rules about life, but looking back, it's like the degree of privacy is dwindling down.
I remember, in one of my classes, I heard that it's the goal of the social networking sites to make it so anyone and everyone can see every single post, picture, and tag that you make on the Internet. Due to my disbelief, I regarded that as hogwash.
Anyways, YES. I believe that the right to privacy is absolute to a certain extent, obviously. The behavioral advertising isn't a big deal, the ClustrMaps locating device is fine, but there is definitely a line that can be crossed. The digital domain of today society has to back down with the amount of information able to be accessed; there are hackers and computer specialists out there who can see EVERYTHING that we do on the Web.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about privacy this weekend when I filled out my contact information for a raffle without second thought. When my friend asked me whether or not it was safe to do so, I stopped and thought about how little I consider privacy in my daily life. I feel like some kids my age who have grown up with the internet reluctantly give out personal information to social networks like Facebook and online stores like Amazon. I think people like these must be cautioned about what they give away on the internet. I believe that everyone has a right to privacy, but because of the internet it is increasingly difficult to uphold this right.

Maeli G. said...

Due to the nature of today's internet culture, as one might say, I actually think it's a bit ridiculous to expect to maintain privacy on the web. While everyone likes to think that they have some kind of invisibility cloak around them, anybody can find a way to access your information. Basically, if you want to hold onto at least a particle of your privacy, avoid the internet at all costs. If you aren't willing to do that, you resign yourself to the cold truth that there are no secrets online.

Shirley said...

While discussing this in class today, I noticed that much of the class, at times including myself, were creeped out about just how much information we are giving away about ourselves to people we do not know. Yet, thinking about it again, I fail to understand just what is so frightening. Perhaps it is because of my contrary nature or my innate caution when dealing with information, but this apparent lack of privacy does not scare me. I think anyone who is cautious and weighs, for themselves, to pros and cons of giving out personal information, need not worry.

Jackie said...

The catch in the right to privacy is whether you give your information away, or it is taken away. Im not sure what you focused on in class, but it sounds like you talked mostly about giving away your information, in which case, you freely and openly, though sometimes not knowingly, give up your right to privacy.

It is similar to when we, as students, step into school. In choosing to do so (or being forced...) we give up some of our rights for the chance to gain an education. Basically what I am saying is, to get certain things, it is socially understood that in some rare cases, other rights will be given up. For example, in order to get those facebook accounts or those benefits from our favorite store, we give up our right to privacy.

So, going along with that same point, things like unwarranted wire tapping, or unconcented sleuthing by the goverment (or therefore anyone) into our personal lives is not okay, becuase we did not give up that right to privacy we as Americans do so deserve.

Then again, there is that wonderful ticking time bomb scenario Mr. Bolos loves so dearly. What if all that was between the goverment and Osama Bin Laden was a couple unwarranted wire taps?....