Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Your Rights Online

US Consumers Clueless About Online Tracking 228

Posted by kdawson
from the just-pretend-nobody's-watching dept.
Arashtamere writes "A study on consumer perceptions about online privacy, undertaken by the Samuelson Clinic at the University of California and the Annenberg Public Policy Center, found that the average American consumer is largely unaware that every move they make online can be, and often is, tracked by online marketers and advertising networks. Those surveyed showed little knowledge on the extent to which online tracking is happening or how the information obtained can be used. More than half of those surveyed — about 55 percent — falsely assumed that a company's privacy polices prohibited it from sharing their addresses and purchases with affiliated companies. Nearly four out of 10 online shoppers falsely believed that a company's privacy policy prohibits it from using information to analyze an individuals' activities online. And a similar number assumed that an online privacy policy meant that a company they're doing business with wouldn't collect data on their online activities and combine it with other information to create a behavioral profile."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Consumers Clueless About Online Tracking

Comments Filter:
  • by SIGALRM (784769) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:07PM (#21249257) Journal
    Dear online marketer,

    Privacy is about more than legal compliance, it's fundamentally about user trust. Be transparent with your users about your privacy practices. If your users don't trust you, you're out of business.
    • by drdanny_orig (585847) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:18PM (#21249365)
      I think you missed the point. Joe Consumer does trust Mr. Marketer, but that trust is misplaced. The problem isn't lack of transparency: it's that Joe Consumer actually doesn't really give a shit one way or the other.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrbluze (1034940)

        The problem isn't lack of transparency: it's that Joe Consumer actually doesn't really give a shit one way or the other.
        The same way Joe Consumer has been done over by the banks. Of course he doesn't really feel it yet.
      • by Anonymous Crowhead (577505) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:28PM (#21249459)
        Joe Consumer actually doesn't really give a shit one way or the other.

        This is what your run-of-the-mill Slashbot fails to grasp. Most people just don't care. And any attempt at educating family and friends (or the masses) goes in one ear and out the other.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by calebt3 (1098475)
          Oh, we know. We observe it every time we fix their malware-ridden computers.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Zalbik (308903)

          This is what your run-of-the-mill Slashbot fails to grasp. Most people just don't care. And any attempt at educating family and friends (or the masses) goes in one ear and out the other.

          Heck, I not only don't care. I don't understand people who do.

          Exactly what is the issue with advertisers using this information to create a behavioural profile? These are all behaviours you are exhibiting in public. Believe it or not, your friends, co-workers, and the cute blonde waitress at the coffee shop have all creat

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by plasmacutter (901737)
            it's very simple.

            It's the direct equivalent to conducting focused surveillance on you, your family, your friends. This is normally the domain of the police, and PI's who do it have to obide by license terms, but suddenly technology has reduced the cost to a point private companies can now do it.

            it's outrageous, and represents and invasion of privacy.
            If individuals do it instead of corporations they are subjected to prosecution under anti-stalking laws, but apparently you think it's fine as long as it's a c
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by RajivSLK (398494)
        Thank you. I was just about to post something like that.

        Personally, I know and fully understand online tracking and all the privacy implications and yet I still don't care. Hell, if "they" can figure out a way to replace the generic tampon commercials with targeted adverts for the newest Aston Martin I'm a happy guy.
        • One thing I don't like about this whole targeted ad business is that more often than not they miss the mark with oddballs like me. Take Amazon for instance, they keep pitching the same dreg to me all the time because they do this "users that got X also got Y" thing. While it does rarely recommend something I might be interested, it mostly tries to shove crap I wouldn't waste more than two seconds looking at.

          But the biggest downside is that someone, somewhere is deciding what sort of stuff expose me to. If

          • by Stooshie (993666)

            ... the biggest downside is that someone, somewhere is deciding what sort of stuff expose me to ...

            Someone, Somewhere doesn't exist. It's an algorithm. A programmer/marketeer tweak the program and adjust according to the returns. Basically what I'm saying is:

            1. write algorithm...
            2. profit!!!
            3. tweak algorithm...
            4. bigger profit!!!
            5. repeat from item 3. ...
        • by Wildclaw (15718) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @02:07AM (#21251787)
          I prefere getting the tampon commercials. Atleast that way I am not brainwashed into buying something I otherwise wouldn't. Of course, the optimal solution to avoid the subtle brainwashing is to use adblocking and adskipping to avoid ads completly.

          And, no I don't think brainwashing is a harsh word to use. Ads are designed specially to make you buy products you otherwise wouldn't, mostly by making you feel more familiar and comfortable with the product. Many slashdot readers probably think that they are above getting tricked by commercials, but that is the delusion that adcompanies want you to believe. Intelligence doesn't matter into it, because ads plays on more primal instincts. The only way to get away from it is to avoid the ads completly.

          One common argument for ads is that they inform you of products, but that is a very weak argument. Ads are very rarely informative. Information in general is better left to 3d party reviews. Of course, with the reach of todays marketing departments it is difficult to know how influenced the 3d party reviewers are, but it is atleast trying.

          So how do this tie in with online tracking. It is simple, The more accuratly that they can advertise products that you could be convinced into buying, the more powerfully they are able to change your opinions.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DerekLyons (302214)

            And, no I don't think brainwashing is a harsh word to use. Ads are designed specially to make you buy products you otherwise wouldn't, mostly by making you feel more familiar and comfortable with the product. Many slashdot readers probably think that they are above getting tricked by commercials, but that is the delusion that adcompanies want you to believe. Intelligence doesn't matter into it, because ads plays on more primal instincts. The only way to get away from it is to avoid the ads completly.

            That w

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Wildclaw (15718)
              "That would explain why I've spend hundreds, nay thousands of dollars purchasing items I don't need over the last year - because I've been seduced by the advertising I'm exposed to daily.

              Oh, wait. I haven't."

              Of course not. The point of advertising isn't to convince you to buy products that you never would buy otherwise. Most everyone could see through that. The real point of advertising a product, is that the next time you go to the store to buy a product of that type, you will buy the advertised brand inst
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by clsours (1089711)

      If your users don't trust you, you're out of business.

      Unfortunately, this shows that the users do not know enough not to trust online services. Also unfortunately, (often) the only way to remove yourself from the grasp of these people is to opt out of their services, which is bad business and bad service.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)
        That is if you can figure out where to opt out of the service. I habitually block third party cookies and have any session cookies set to be deleted at the end of the session. I'll allow a few cookies to set up permanent residence, but only if I think that it is in my best interest rather than some advertiser that isn't securing my data. And it is my data, they may have collected it, but it belongs to me.

        I'm probably still being tracked its just that the amount of tracking info is limited to 1 session. The
    • Dear concerned person,

      Our surveys (see story above) show that customers don't give a rat's ass as long as it's cheap.
  • >" US Consumers Clueless About Online Tracking"

    US Consumers Clueless.

    There, fixed it for you.

    Really, its not just online tracking ... there are SO many things, from food packaging and labeling to software to car mileage figures to taxes to rights.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by feepness (543479)

      US Consumers Clueless. There, fixed it for you.
      Consumers Clueless

      There, fixed it for you without being a troll.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by cheater512 (783349)
        No idiot. Its 'US Clueless'.

        Who else would vote a ape in as president? :)
      • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@nOSpaM.barbara-hudson.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:20PM (#21249891) Journal

        You're absolutely right. Pretty much all consumers are clueless. No wonder - their chief source of information about a product is advertising.

        Look at how many by sugar water labeled as "Grape Drink" or "Orange Drink", thinking that there must be real juice in it, because they won't take the time to read the label, and manufacturers aren't required to state in bold letters "THIS IS NOT REAL FRUIT JUICE". Or "Best mileage in its class!" - which really means "it sucks gas, so we made a 'class' with others that suck even more for bogus comparison purposes". Or "dermatologist - recommended". Or the P4s that were, clock tick for clock tick, slower than the P3s, but would "enhance your multimedia experience."

        Maybe public education should include classes in Critical Analysis of Ad Claims 101 and Weasel Word Composition.

        • by zxnos (813588)
          i acutally had that class. we even had to make a video commercial and see how many lies and subliminal messages we could get by our classmates. our product was something like 'nigel'S EXtra strength clay pots' the premise was a pot party complete with donut eating cops and hippies. a lot got by. good ol 9th grade.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Assassin bug (835070)
        ... and we are all consumers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smardrengr (1184939)
      That's true. But tracking *things* has different implications than tracking *people*. When tracking something that is fairly disconnected from individuals, such as vehicle mileage, it's less intrusive than tracking people by, say, the cell phone (which is tracking a thing, but feels very much like an invasion of privacy to most). When you track somthing like purchasing habits, you are in a sense monitoring behaviour, which is getting closer to tracking the person, a la 1984. But not all tracking is evil. I
    • Do you buy stuff in the US? Then you are a US consumer, and by your assertion, clueless. Thanks for playing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:11PM (#21249291)
    The Department of the Obvious?
  • But... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jmanamj (1077749)
    But I can just change my browser options to "don't save filled forms" and all the stuff I search for on Google isn't saved right?

    Nobody could ever get that information.
  • astonishing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenVis (795521) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:15PM (#21249343)
    I am not sure which is more astonishing: That so few people have bothered to read the privacy policies of the web sites they frequent, or that there are people who think the solution is legislation [slashdot.org].
    • Re:astonishing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrbluze (1034940) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:44PM (#21249599) Journal

      [astonishing ...] there are people who think the solution is legislation

      A very valid point. The solutions to most of the Internet's privacy problems lie in software design, such as default encryption and anomymizing of traffic. Although nobody can force Microsoft to create a half decent browser, or anything else for that matter, we can at least encourage open source software developers to reduce the end-user's internet fingerprint. Sure, anyone who is interested in not being followed around on the 'net can achieve this by installing a couple of firefox plugins and so on, but the way for the privacy conscious to protect themselves best is to encourage everyone else to do the same.

      If we consider privacy infringement being akin to getting syphilis, then apart from not using the internet (abstinence), or installing and configuring extra software (condoms, which fall off, or don't get used in the first place), the only option is to supply people with genitalia which is pre-shrink-wrapped, if you get my drift.

      • ...at least not safe, verifiable encryption which requires identification.

        Look at the way SSL is mis-used almost constantly across the web. Even most "techies" don't get it because the concepts are counter-intuitive (even if very simple). SSL certificates and CAs were created to ensure that the domain name you typed-in is the real holder of that domain name. But techies generally think that SSL certs were supposed to validate a site's overall identity or business ethics, and they "know" that SSL has "failed
        • by mrbluze (1034940)

          There is a reason why the lock appears in the address bar, because it validates that you are connected with the real holder of that address.

          Checking credentials and so forth is a different matter from preventing the user from being tracked and profiled. If all traffic was encrypted, then it goes a step towards genuine net neutrality. Your ISP can't profile you and the warning "you are about to send data across an unencrypted connection" would nolonger be a nag but useful.

          As for trust, well this is a problem in any market place. Online money transactions should be handled directly by the companies that handle money, in my opinion (eg: your b

          • by Burz (138833)

            Checking credentials and so forth is a different matter from preventing the user from being tracked and profiled.

            This isn't true, because encryption between people who never physically meet is meaningless without a mechanism to identify the remote party. Without the latter, the ISP could easily do MITM without the user being any the wiser.

            A trust-less encryption scheme (one without a trust mechanism) is just like DRM where everyone is given the key along with the data and expected to just "be good".

            And that I am having to explain this on a "tech" site underlines my point in other posts on this topic: Most techies do

  • In Canada ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by debrain (29228) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:19PM (#21249379) Journal
    ... the consumers would be correct. [privcom.gc.ca]
  • by webmaster404 (1148909) on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:20PM (#21249385)
    US consumers are clueless about technology in general. If you would ask the average person if they know simple computer concepts such as partitioning and operating systems they are clueless, never mind how the Internet works. Many times, I have been malevolent tech support (face it, we all have had to fill that role) and people couldn't tell me what the operating system they were running was! They were even more clueless about the processor they were running despite a bold sticker telling you on your computer case. So how can consumers be assumed to know a thing about the internet when most can't even tell you what OS they are running.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      So true about the OS thing...One time this guy told me that NORTON was his operating system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)
        Is that in any way better than:

        Word
        Office
        Intel
        IBM
        "the one with the icons"

        or my personal favorite

        "What do you mean "which one?", I have a computer!"
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nazlfrag (1035012)
        I'm not kidding, I have a luser with the exact same issue, refuses to say what OS/browser anything identifiable except Norton. I guess that in-your-face-worse-than-any-virus-known-to-mankind technology pays off in brand recognition.

        Anyway, please, I'm begging you, how did you solve this? And I've unfortunately already ruled out homicide.
    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:38PM (#21250015)

      They were even more clueless about the processor they were running
      Tell me about it, I worked at this gas station when I was a teenager and people would come in and fill up the tank without the least bit of knowledge how gasoline was refined, or if their OBDC used SAE J1850 VPW or SAE J1850 PWM communication patterns.

      You'd think that if someone is going to buy a car, that they would know everything a certified mechanic knew.

      Or, maybe the people that you talked to when you were tech support were just using their computers for entertainment and have neither the need nor the desire to "get under the hood" of the computer.

      Typically people in tech support forget that they are paid to support the person calling them, not the other way around. I understand dealing with the public can be a pain in the ass, but if you don't like it, do your profession and the public a favor and quit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by onefriedrice (1171917)
      > US consumers are clueless about technology in general. If you would ask the average
      > person if they know simple computer concepts such as partitioning and operating systems...

      As a tech person, perhaps you think regular consumers should be able to partition their hard drives, but for most people computers and hi-tech gadgets are tools no matter how prevalent or even how important they are in our lives. They don't care how their hard drives are virtually divided for use by their OS, and why should th
      • by number11 (129686)
        As a tech person, perhaps you think regular consumers should be able to partition their hard drives, but for most people computers and hi-tech gadgets are tools no matter how prevalent or even how important they are in our lives.

        I got that. But isn't it important to know how your tools work, how to take care of them?

        I don't necessarily expect the "regular consumer" to know how to partition a hard drive, at least without googling a bit. But I think it's reasonable to expect someone who uses computers to ha
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MikShapi (681808)
      Pardon, but do you have any clue how the SIM card in your phone or the data stripe on your credit card are partitioned? Do you care, regardless of how important a phone or a credit card is to you? no. It's a black box. It does its job.
      Does that make you any more clueless? no. Simply uninterested in the workings of a particular bit of technology. Just as you can point to things those people are disinterested in figuring out in a higher level of detail, I can find a similar number of things you would be disin
      • by Burz (138833)

        Pardon, but do you have any clue how the SIM card in your phone or the data stripe on your credit card are partitioned? Do you care, regardless of how important a phone or a credit card is to you? no. It's a black box

        I think this is a topic where the automobile analogy is far more appropriate. And FWIW people's cars are almost never regarded as black boxes by them. In fact they had to take classes just to learn to use the roadways.

        OTOH we have millions of people 'driving' on the info superhighway who don't look over their shoulder or check the mirror when they make a lane change (i.e. they may look for the SSL lock, but don't check the domain name that its validating). Extremely simple procedures make all the differenc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msimm (580077)
      [BLANK] consumers tend to be indifferent. Political apathy aside, there's a limit to how well the average person should need to understand every tool. After all, I think it's important that some people take up other interests. Some people become doctors and I don't think I should have to know brain surgery myself. I don't fix my car. I can't fly a plane. I can't keep wood for the duration of an adult movie shoot. But I don't think everyone should have to. Can we please stop with the juvenile 'I know techno
      • by Burz (138833)
        But doctors who drive a car should be taught how to operate one. Just as doctors who navigate the Internet should learn how to operate a browser, which requires that a few semantic rules are followed just as rules of the road would be.

        Any doctor or average housewife who insists on treating their computer as a blackbox while expecting to be delivered from insecurity is an arrogant boob, and I'm afraid that accurately characterizes not only most Internet denizens, but also about 70% of the "tech" community as
    • Gets paid a lot more than you do to be an expert salesman, lawyer, accountant, business exec, etc...

      If they knew computers the way you did:

      • They'd be more focused on the computer, and less on getting their job done, and hence, less effective as an employee, and
      • Techs would have to get a real job. Probably something in accounting, law, sales, etc... hence:
      • Clueless users save techs from having to do the jobs that would bore them to tears.

      IBM made a killing with their consultants because they pushed

  • by LinuxGeek (6139) * <djand,nc&gmail,com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:28PM (#21249461)
    Does everyone think that Walmart and every other large retailer doesn't track the purchases made with the same credit/debit card? When you use a single identifiable item for so many things, it makes your behavior very easy to predict and to take advantage of. Say hello to Big Visa.
    • by mosb1000 (710161)
      If by "take advantage of" you mean "sell products to". The whole point is that they want to advertise things you'd be interested in, rather than pay to bombard you with adds that you couldn't care less about. If you're going to be staring at a wal-mart add anyway, it might as well be for something you'd actually consider buying!
    • by scribblej (195445) on Monday November 05, 2007 @11:49PM (#21250979)
      I am in the credit-card processing business.

      I can tell you that as popular as this myth is, VISA is not generally able to track what you purchase. Generally, all they know is where you shopped and how much you spent, not what individual items you spent on.

      The nearest there is to an exception to this is in hotels and fleet card purchases -- in the case of Hotels, VISA gets a breakdown of what money was spent on the room vs the room service vs the hotel lobby store, etc. Still doesn't know what actual items were purchased, but they do get told your check-in and check-out dates and some other things. For fleet card they might get told how many gallons of gas you purchased, but that's about it.

      I know, I grew up thinking VISA was watching me, too, but it turns out it's just not watching that closesly. It doesn't have the capability; the protocols whereby credit card information are transferred just don't have any specification for that level of reporting.

  • No Real Surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409)

    Nearly four out of 10 online shoppers falsely believed that a company's privacy policy prohibits it from using information to analyze an individuals' activities online.
    This isn't particularly surprising. How many people actually read the privacy policies?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pete6677 (681676)
      Better yet, how many people think privacy policies actually mean anything? Ever read one? The whole thing contradicts itself in so much legalese. It states that your information won't be given out, and then describes exactly how it will be given out (to anyone who pays for it).
    • I read them. PayPal lost a potential customer when I read theirs.

      -:sigma.SB

  • US Consumers Clueless about X
    • At least you can't say /. is spreading lies.
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      US Consumers Clueless about X

      We could leave more room for other stories if we just ran more more titled simply "U.S. Consumers Clueless"
  • that a massive wave of realization crosses the minds of the average slashdot reader/ editor: the average guy on the street doesn't care. some slashdot readers are shocked, shocked i tell you, to find out that a lot of people don't treat their private life with the security protocols of a swiss bank. because they simply don't care

    and honestly? i side with the average guy on the street with (non)this issue. the average guy on the street looks at the data generated from his random meanderings on the web as useless, unimportant, and not a matter of privacy. and you know what?: he's right. frankly, that some database might know what i visited on eBay, then amazon.com, then netflix is not some horrible raping of my psyche. it really isn't

    someone could track the wanderings of people around the supermarket too. is that information deeply personal to you? it is? so then that means you define your deeply personal identity based on what aisle you walk down in in the supermarket? pffft

    then they use that information to pitch DVD titles at you, or pasta, or a hallmark card

    oh my god. some database knows i bought pepto bismol. now it wants to sell me toilet paper. MY PERSONAL IDENTITY HAS BEEN HORRIBLY RAPED. I HAVE BEEN DEHUMANIZED AND DEMEANED. MY SENSE OF SELF-WORTH IS LOWERED. IT'S ORWELL'S 1984

    pfffffffffft

    next nonissue please
    • by PPH (736903)
      The average person on the street may never realize that he/she is getting diverted to the 3rd world tech support line, or not getting the best credit card rate, savings account rate, sales price on goods and services, etc., etc. because the database indicates that he/she doesn't rank high enough to be worthy.


      Its not just the crap that they'll market to you. You can ignore that. Its the stuff that you can't have because, quite frankly, you live in the wrong neighborhood.

    • by garcia (6573) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:33PM (#21249975)
      and honestly? i side with the average guy on the street with (non)this issue. the average guy on the street looks at the data generated from his random meanderings on the web as useless, unimportant, and not a matter of privacy. and you know what?: he's right. frankly, that some database might know what i visited on eBay, then amazon.com, then netflix is not some horrible raping of my psyche. it really isn't

      It isn't when it's some third-party non-important entity looking at your surfing habits. However, it is very much an issue when the government decides that because you are waiving your Constitutional rights [slashdot.org] they can subpoena that same information to use as part of their illegal nationwide net of information on citizens.

      I'm sorry if YOU are lumped in with the general uncaring public about something that shouldn't be the business of any group of Marketers, government agencies, or anyone except /dev/null but you're fucking insane if you don't think it's important to protect your privacy.

      Thanks for offering me the chance to bite, I enjoy it sometimes.
      • let me illustrate for you how hysteria and panic and fear get turned into slippery slope arguments:

        if you let homosexual men marry, next you will have to make pedophilia, rape, incest, bestiality and necrophilia legal

        do you believe that? i will take a guess and say no

        such a thought, is, of course, complete bullshit: people can tell the difference between a gay man and a corpse fucker

        but in the mind of some social conservatives, THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS

        why? because their slippery slope argument really is not
        • the average well adjusted person can easily tell the difference between the government shifting for terrorists
          Since when does "shifting for terrorists" trump the constitution?
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:37PM (#21250005)

      oh my god. some database knows i bought pepto bismol. now it wants to sell me toilet paper. MY PERSONAL IDENTITY HAS BEEN HORRIBLY RAPED. I HAVE BEEN DEHUMANIZED AND DEMEANED. MY SENSE OF SELF-WORTH IS LOWERED. IT'S ORWELL'S 1984
      Due to your regular purchasing of Pepto Bismal we have increased your HPPR (Health Problem Probability Rating) for gastrointestinal cancer to the high-risk group. Consquently we are increasing your health insurance premium by $200/month to compensate.

      If you are not the normal consumer of your Pepto Dismal purchases, please fill out the attached "Not A Regular Consumer" form to identify said user and your HPPR will be returned to the normal-risk group.

      Sincerely,
      Your Health Insurance Extortionist [msn.com]
    • by Kohath (38547)
      i keep waiting for the day that a massive wave of realization crosses the minds of the average slashdot reader/ editor

      What?! Don't you know how important we are? Our opinions are teh educated ones! We know how online tracking works and the general public doesn't. Therefore, online tracking is important. Very important. We have concerns and everyone should listen to us and -- this is crucial -- value our understanding. Our understanding must be acknowledged and accorded status. Because we are importa
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:40PM (#21249549)
    Dear Slashdot,

    I'm in a quandry. I see policemen beating lawyers on the streets in Pakistan.

    How should I be feeling?

    Thanks,

    A concerned citizen.
    • Worried. It might make it hard to claim Pakistan is in the Axis of Evil when people start to sympathize with the executive there.
    • by Dekortage (697532)

      I'm in a quandry. I see policemen beating lawyers on the streets in Pakistan. How should I be feeling?

      That's a tough call. You should already be depressed, worried, upset, mad, and overall just frickin' pissed off at the terrible rape in the Congo [thenation.com] (or even the U.S. [google.com]), the starvation in Somalia [globalsecurity.org] (or North Korea [209.157.64.201], mothers dying around the world from a condition that can be treated simply and cheaply [engenderhealth.org], incredible pollution in China [wired.com] and everywhere else [esa.int], intense economic inequality in Latin America [iht.com] and how it's d [confectionerynews.com]

    • If your point is to say that some wrongdoing is OK because there is something worse happening to someone else somewhere, then bravo, you are indeed saying that the current Pakistan events are OK because it won't be hard to find something even worse somewhere in recent history.

      When it comes to human rights, NEVER compare any situation to something worse, only to what it should be, and try to improve what you can, even if it is not that important, instead of complaining on what you can't change.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Monday November 05, 2007 @08:52PM (#21249655) Homepage

    When donating them money in 2006, I specified a "special" address, which contained "from ACLU" in the "Line 1" of the address. The actual address went to "Line 2" of their form. I do this with all establishments I'm dealing with — just in case.

    A month or so later invitations to subscribe to "The Nation" (a disgusting uber-Left rag) started showing up bearing the "from ACLU" address...

    Now, I expected the ACLU to be bi-partisan — and concerned with my privacy. Asking me for money the next year is fair game. But sharing my info with other — completely unrelated — organizations? Very disappointing...

    Somehow, nothing but parcels from Amazon has shown up bearing the "from Amazon" address.

    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:57PM (#21250607) Homepage Journal
      Now, I expected the ACLU to be bi-partisan...

      Hah!

      ...and concerned with my privacy.

      Hah! Hah!
    • It was the first and last time I donated to them. Since it's EFF or donating direct to charities or causes.
    • It could also be that ACLU mailed it on behalf of The Nation. That is ACLU got the brochures from The Nation and printed the envelope and/or did the mail merging. That way you get mail from The Nation, but all they know is that ACLU sent it to x-number of people that fit profile Y without ever knowing who you are.

      This is quite common practice and often there are two opt-ins (or outs) on applications: "allow us to share your information with our partners" and "allow us to send you information on behalf of ou
    • by Spad (470073)
      I do the same with my email addresses, it's always fun to see which sites sell on your data within minutes of you registering.
  • by pcause (209643) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:00PM (#21249729)
    It isn't a surprise, becuase if people understood how much is tracked and what companies like Google know about them, there would be outrage. No one should have the level of detailed information about a consumer that Google gathers. They know who you email and IM with and about what, what sites you visit, what you buy, what your interests are, where you are and with whom, your stick market interests and investments and more. Even the Soviet era KGB would envy Google data collection and audacity.

    Some (GOogle) will say that the privacy policy explains all this. Humbug! First you have to follow a link to find the policy. Second the lawyers and marketeers have obfuscated what is really being done. Further, they can change the policy without notice. When they change you have to know they have changed and then go and read the new policy. How one is supposed to know when no notice is provided is a mystery.

    All in all, Google is doing a lot of evil if you believe in personal privacy. They are an invasive collector of personal data and they hide the extent and nature of what they are doing. Google makes Microsoft bashful in their business practices.
    • by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday November 05, 2007 @10:11PM (#21250299)
      PROTIP: If you don't want someone to have personal information about you, don't give it to them.
    • Using NoScript (may it be forever blessed), I've come to assume that any page I visit will have google-analytics.com scripts running on it. Many have doubleclick.net ones as well. In fact, those two are the only ones on this slashdot comment page aside from the slashdot ones. Google-analytics scripts are probably running on at least 95% of all web pages, in my experience. Well, for some people they are :)
      • ...I believe the applicable addon here is "CookieSafe" or similar.

        Web bugs can also be used to track people. Using "ImgLikeOpera" with default set to load images for originating site only will largely skirt web bugs.

        "Safe History" and "Clear Cache" are also good to have in Firefox.

        And let us not forget Privoxy + Tor + Torbutton if you really want to be anonymous.
  • Ignorance is bliss. Ever since GWB set his foot in the oval office, Americans have proven that we don't really listen to what's going on with our privacy. I don't know if we are to blame the media. Maybe it's in our nature to ignore it. Or maybe a combination. Either way, we have shown that we don't care enough to make a difference, which is why sites can do this - because, supposedly, no one bothers.
  • by Adeptus_Luminati (634274) on Monday November 05, 2007 @09:34PM (#21249985)
    Privacy Policy or no privacy policy... if you have been surfing US sites in the past few years, the dept of Home Land Security tracked all (and I mean ALL) your information.

    References:
    1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-aQ_o_yi-s [youtube.com]
    2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWW09xzJfS0 [youtube.com]
    3) http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [usatoday.com]
    4) http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2006/06/the_newbies_gui.html?entry_id=1510938 [wired.com]
  • And I can also tell you why. In a nutshell: It's not on primetime TV. How I can tell? Well, everyone knows what color the panties of Britney have or how long Paris was in jail, everyone know who's the current American Idol, and all of that because, yes, you guessed it: It made primetime.

    Now, this would be information and it's hard to make it infotainment, it's also nothing where you could get kids to call in to a 0900 number, so it has an icecube in hell chance to ever get there.

    Also, who should push it the
  • Consumers Clueless
    It is not just US consumers that are clueless and online tracking is not the only issue in which they are clueless...
  • The story shouldn't say "consumers clueless about online tracking", it should just say, "consumers are just clueless".
  • Customers? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Backtrack a second. I'm not a "customer" until I swipe my card at the checkout line. Prior to that, I'm occupying space and am merely potential. Customers are those who purchase. Everyone else is simply unconverted potential. Step back and approach your disdain from that vantage point.
  • While the constitution is supposed to state our right to privacy is inalienable , apparently we need a redundant set of laws to positively guarantee our privacy.

    And i don't care that theyre private companies, there are precedents which protect our constitutional rights even against private companies. They can't invade your privacy by putting cams in bathrooms. Apartment complexes and other renting landlords can't claim dominion over, break into, or otherwise disturb your house, your in-complex mailbox, or
  • For starters, they need to stop calling it "Privacy Policy." People read those two words together, and they think it means that their privacy is assured. "Lack of Privacy Policy" doesn't ring too well though does it? They should be required to title the policy something that identifies the intent of the message though. Maybe something like "Information Sharing Policy" or something along those lines. Further, I'd like to see more than one check box stating "I agree to all of the crap I didn't read above
  • Look, marketers have been promising targeted advertising based on behavior analysis, etc, for several years now. I have opted into EVERYTHING. Online, on my TiVo, even on my Kroger Shopping Card. The minute I get even one reasonably targeted ad, I might consider the ramifications. I love cage fighting/MMA, collect guns and computers and 8-bit game consoles, love TiVo (own three), hunt, drink light domestic beer, love pizza, play lots of video games with my buddies, Cheer for the Razorbacks and the Colts
  • by FlopEJoe (784551) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @07:49AM (#21253249)
    I'm so ahead of those trackers because I wear my fake mustache and glasses when I buy questionable things on the internets. And they say we're clueless!

Every successful person has had failures but repeated failure is no guarantee of eventual success.

Working...