The government’s announcement that they may create a Do Not Track registry for the web, similar to the offline Do Not Call system, has sent the digital advertising industry scrambling to clean its image.
But not everyone agrees that web tracking is an unqualified evil. This morning prominent New York VC Fred Wilson wrote to the New York Times defending the utility of web tracking for the average user.
Tracking technology helps services like Amazon and Netflix make purchase recommendations. Tracking helps newspapers like The New York Times and other online publications place ads that you’ll actually care about.
Tracking helps services like the Weather Channel give you the information you are looking for without having to enter a lot of data every time you use the service. Tracking can make sure you don’t see the same news story twice.
Tracking is the technology behind some of the most powerful personalization technologies on the Web. A Web without tracking technology would be so much worse for users and consumers.
Wilson is right that a personalized web is a much more enjoyable, efficient and business friendly place. Of course, users should be able to decide for themselves if they want to exchange their personal information for these benefits.Wilson continues,
But there are some people who care so much about privacy that they value it over everything else. they are a small but vocal minority and they should be allowed to easily and absolutely opt out of tracking cookies and other approaches. Web and mobile services that use tracking technologies should also offer an easy opt out mechanism that is easy to find and execute.
The issue really, is that the tracking companies and ag agencies of the world will always stay one step ahead of consumers. Many, for example, are abandoning cookies for the much more detailed, and difficult to block, digital fingerprints. No self-regulation will be as complete, or geniuine, as a government imposed privacy list.
bpopper [at] observer.com | @benpopper