Great write up on online privacy from Frank Abagnale, a security and fraud prevention expert. He lays out how data is collected, who is using it and why, and what is being done to protect consumer privacy online. His story talks about how data is collected – and makes the important point that it happens both online and offline. He explains that most of the time data is being collected by marketers who have no interest in reaching a specific individual but large audiences that share specific attributes (age, gender, education, etc.). He points out that this data is used for targeting advertising and that this advertising is what allows the Web to provide so much free content.
Abagnale does recognize that some people find this type of data collection and use “creepy” and that many consumers don’t understand the privacy policies presented to them by sites and apps. He suggests that the Federal Trade Commission is working to reign in misuse of data (he specifically cites the agencies cases against Google, Facebook and most recently MySpace) and that the industry itself is trying to take steps to protect consumer data. Among the approaches he mentions are Do Not Track, private browsing and – drumroll please – “pro-privacy tracking tools” that allow marketers to gather data in ways that respect consumer privacy. That’s what we do!
You go Frank!