I remember the first time I received a piece of e-mail from someone I didn’t know and was quite excited at the prospect that it might lead to a new friendship! It was for cheap Canadian medication and thus began the intrusion of so many e-mails like it since. And if it wasn’t bad enough that they and actual legitimate advertisers found you through an e-mail address, they started tracking your online browsing habits. Amazon and a huge majority of e-commerce sites are watching your every move and finding ways to present you with ads for products they feel you’ll spend money on. Pay Per Click is another favorite of businesses to use. Much of this could change, though, if a new program called Do Not Track gets the green light.
The odds are already stacked against it, but what exactly is Do Not Track? It’s an add-on piece of software that allows you to opt out of allowing merchants or websites to track your personal data while on their pages. Even Google isn’t happy about this since they get paid by advertisers to target users by examining their online behavior. And advertisers are seriously unhappy because it means they can’t inundate you with their products. Millions and millions of dollars could be lost. Profits will be down. Blah…blah…blah…
I realize I have a somewhat caustic attitude towards the business point of view regarding Do Not Track, but that’s probably because I’d be one of the first people to sign up for it and download the software. I can only assume that the reason businesses are so concerned about it is their legitimately founded fear that the majority of online users will opt to use the software. This tells me that people find what these businesses do to be intrusive and don"t wish to have their information scrutinized. Rather than respect that, these businesses are simply going to do as they wish because they can.
On the flip side, consumers who don’t mind the products being presented to them aren’t going to download Do Not Track and will continue on, business as usual. Besides, the likelihood of the FTC getting Do Not Track approved is pretty low. It’s a shame, really. I used to find out about new products from TV commercials, word-of-mouth, articles or by doing a little bit of research. Perhaps a little more work the old fashioned way and a little less intrusion into our lives through personal information they shouldn’t have access to is something these businesses ought to adopt.