lunes, julio 06, 2009

Privacy and cartelization

[This entry posted in English due to potential cross-border interest.]

In an interesting note in the New York Times, Saul Hansell discusses an announcement made last week by the interactive advertising industry (also reported in the New York Times) regarding changes in the privacy policies of interactive advertisers, in particular referring to behavioral targeting.

Hansell says: "Here’s what will happen under the minimum standards in the new plan: Everything will occur exactly the same as before, except that the link you click for the vaguely worded generalities will be called something like 'advertising information' rather than 'privacy policy.'"

In Spanish we use the expression "la misma gata pero revolcada" and the well-known lawyer Joel Gómez has used it for this case too.

The discussion about issues like this usually arrives at a dark if not blind alley called "all companies are doing essentially the same thing, so users [hey! they are consumers and even - to marketers' horror - citizens!) should stop feeling concerned and carry on, as nobody will change their privacy or data protection policies to attract privacy minded users because there is no business in doing so."

Now I posit that this is sheer cartelization, an agreement to not compete, and in the eyes of some lawyers as well as citizen and consumer organizations be seen as restraint of trade. That would be an angle to explore and discuss.

A note is required here: the policies have been published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organization whose chapter in Mexico works well and which I highly esteem, and I do not consider behavioral targeting and other forms of personalization and targeting of advertising online as intrinsically bad. I have learned from true experts like Dave Morgan who are upright citizens of the world to understand these techniques and appreciate them. My view here is that their implementation need be more transparent than till now, that disclosure of what is being done and opportunity to exert all data protection rights, and/or provide informed consent, must be openly provided, and, for the particular case of Mexico, emerging legislation for the protection of personal data in the possession of private entities must prepare to give due consideration to these developments.

2 comentarios:

  1. Behavioral targeting is a technique that opens new horizons for advertising.

    The ability to reach a consumer based on his profile, preferences and behavior is a benefit that promises a new era for advertising and has certainly raised the attention of civil rights groups and activists.

    I agree on the Transparence, Disclosure & Permission. Specially on the latter, since it carries the user's consent to open the conversation. Also, the certainty that the data is secure and in good hands would be a plus in MX.

    I see 2 important points in favor of BT:

    1. Relevance. When the consumer receives messages that are important to him, it is not as upsetting as many of today's massively distributed ads. It also avoids waste in the ad budget. Send info about baby brands to new parents who are interested, not to teenagers who would rather receive from snacks or fashion.

    2. Data, not people. When advertisers work with a DB, it has thousands of names on it. We use it in order to profile & respond w the right message so we can have a more relevant conversation with groups of similar people, not to see who people are and where their kids go to school.

    I think the most important is that as an industry, we must explain in a better way the benefits that this technique carries for the consumer, and solve the barriers in an auto-regulated way, as IAB US is proposing.

    In Mexico we need to be specially cautious, since it has been proven in the last elections that the legislative branch does not have the proper understanding of either the Internet or its use a commercial tool in order to write a law that would balance both interests.

  2. Once I opened my Hotmail and I got really really scared when I listened... Arturo Montiel's voice! WTF? Is he selling something? (Does he own any soul to sell)?

    I've noticed that ppl subscribed to my e-mail RSS feed (whatever that means) get not only my beautiful posts but unauthorized publicity -never authorized by my blog's owner-, generally about buying diet and sleeping pills without prescription (and Viagra!).

    What do you think about the collective sue against Google???