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John Wunderlich's Comments

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EU Has its Finger on the Internet Privacy Button

Commented Nov 10, 2009 at 09:34:54 in Technology

“This is the old refrain that what is good for business is good for everyone. That's not only false on the face of it, it's particularly ingenuous in the context of this particular issue. There was a recent survey published, based on a survey in the US, not the EU, that clearly demonstrates that American consumer do not want targeted or behavioral advertising(link below). In the context of the survey, one can reasonably infer from this that Americans do not want web sites, or the organizations behind the web sites, implementing the technology that enables them to be tracked for the purposes of targeted ads - cookies.

The world may be a better place if most web marketing companies fail. I believe that's called competition. I understand that the advertising model is what creates revenue for many websites, particularly search engines. But maybe those websites should fail. Remember Sturgeon's Law - "90 percent of everything is crap". Given how inexpensive it is to run a web site, if the business can't sell advertising or obtain sponsorship directly, maybe they deserve to fail. For search engines, they can still identify ads to place on search results pages based on search terms and anonymous analysis of click through results. It may not be as profitable as tracking peoples' behaviour, but is does respect privacy rights and consumer desires - and isn't that respect at the heart of good business?

Survey report:

hp blogger Jarvis Coffin on Nov 11, 2009 at 12:38:00


Thanks for your comments. I am familiar with the survey you point to, and as a consumer myself I'd be inclined along with most everyone else in the survey to reject a trade-off between "targeted ads" and loss of privacy. I'm not online to see the advertising. I don't listen to radio to hear the commercials. The extent to which privacy is really lost, however, by the use of cookies is an open question in my book. As compared to other intrusions and abuses the cookie is fairly innocuous. Sadly, the online industry has done a very poor job of explaining it. But here are some thoughts I've posted on the matter elsewhere, for what it's worth:

Otherwise, I would only point out that cookies are as useful to search engines as they are to web publishers. Everyone will suffer from universal opt-in. I'm all for Sturgeon's Law (which would certainly apply to television), but doesn't it makes the 10% especially worth saving? Online, that could equate to thousands of independent web publishers that, by-in-large, are principally responsible for the mosaic we call the world wide web.

Thanks for your inputs.