According to the White House, Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights provides a baseline of clear protections for consumers and greater certainty for businesses. The rights are:
- Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.
- Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.
- Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
- Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
- Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data are inaccurate.
- Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
- Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
It applies to personal data, which means any data–including aggregations of data–that is linkable to a specific individual.
The address book in smartphones is free for app developers to take at will, often without the phone owner’s knowledge. Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram routinely gather the information in personal address books on the phone and in some cases store it on their own computers. The practice came under scrutiny Wednesday by members of Congress.
Julia Angwin of the Wall Street Journal, says a coalition of Internet giants including Google Inc. has agreed to support a do-not-track button to be embedded in most Web browsers—a move that the industry had been resisting for more than a year. That reversal is being announced today, as the White House calls for Congress to pass a “privacy bill of rights.”
The new do-not-track button, such as the free one offered by Abine, isn’t going to stop all Web tracking, explains Angwin. The companies have agreed to stop using the data about people’s Web browsing habits to customize ads, and have agreed not to use the data for employment, credit, health-care or insurance purposes. But the data can still be used for some purposes such as “market research” and “product development” and can still be obtained by law enforcement officers.
Ghostery (0 trackers), sees the invisible web – web bugs, tags, pixels and beacons. Ghostery tracks the trackers and gives you a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers, web publishers, and other companies interested in your activity.
Julia Angwin (twitter) recently led a team of reporters from The Wall Street Journal in analyzing the tracking software and discovered that nearly all of the most commonly visited websites gather information in real time about the behavior of online users.
Visiting the top 50 internet websites resulted in more than 3,000 cookies embedded into a “clean” computer. Wikipedia had no cookies. Dictionary.com had the most, with over 250 attached to their computer on a single visit.
The business of spying on Internet users so that the information can be sold to advertisers is one of the fastest-growing businesses today, explains Fresh Air.
The multi-billion dollar data mining industry is taking target marketing into a New Frontier. Every time you swipe a rewards card at a store, that data goes somewhere to get analyzed. Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith takes a look and visits a data mining company.
You can find your cluster here, at the Acxiom website, which offers data mining services to advertisers. My online tracker blocker from Abine says Acxiom has “0″ trackers on this particular page. Here’s the Acxiom catalog of data-mined products that advertisers can buy to better target potential consumers.
My own Dailywireless site (the one you are currently reading) has 4 trackers, reports Abine. Those are from the AdSense, Amazon, and banner ads. CNN.com has 8 trackers, according to my Abine Firefox plug-in.
Advertisers are collecting personal information about you, says Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of the new book, The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth — which details how companies are tracking people through their computers and cellphones in order to personalize the ads they see.
Turow tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that tracking is ubiquitous across the Internet, from search engines to online retailers and even greeting card companies. A recent Valentine’s Day card sent to his wife, for instance, contained trackers from 15 separate companies.
Congress will probably have to write legislation governing the collection and use of personal data, something that is unlikely to occur this year, says the NY Times. And the companies that make browsers — Google, Microsoft, Apple and others — will have to agree to the new standards.
The Federal Trade Commission, which has already begun monitoring privacy violations, will have the ability to enforce compliance with a code of conduct to be developed by the Commerce Department or with advertising industry guidelines that companies would adopt voluntarily.
“The real question is how much influence companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook will have in their inevitable attempt to water down the rules that are implemented and render them essentially meaningless,” John M. Simpson, privacy project director for Consumer Watchdog, said in response to the administration’s plan. “A concern is that the administration’s privacy effort is being run out of the Commerce Department.”
But Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), complained that the W3C’s process had been “hijacked by people who are reflexively opposed to commerce on the Internet.” The forces supporting a broad Do Not Track role are “trying to kill advertising on the Internet,” he said.