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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Business Says 'Trust Me' ; I say 'I Don't Think So'

To the extent possible, I resist wearing clothing that turns me into a billboard for the manufacturer. If a major corporation wants me to advertise for it, then I want to be paid to do so. Why should they get a free ride?

Another place business attempts to get a free ride from consumers is on the web. Today in the Financial Times, John Gapper writes about how online advertising companies tack cookies on your browser and track your movements on the internet. You can find out what companies are tracking you by going to The information collected by these companies is ostensibly used to target advertising to particular consumers. But as Mr. Gapper points out, this activity raises serious privacy issues.

Do we trust business to do the right thing while shadowing us on the web? I don't. The health care community couldn't be trusted with our medical information, so Congress had to enact an extensive privacy law known as HIPAA. If the medical community, whose key participants are physicians who have professional standards for patient confidentiality, can't be trusted then why would we trust advertisers?