Has the Online Privacy Backlash Begun?

by Venessa Miemis

Has the Online Privacy Backlash Begun?Though some may like to believe that the age of privacy is dead, recent developments in Do Not Track browser options would suggest otherwise.

Microsoft recently announced a new feature for Internet Explorer 9, called Tracking Protection Lists, enabling consumers to limit the data third-party sites can collect about them. Yesterday, Mozilla announced they will incorporate a Do Not Track header into the upcoming Firefox 4.1, which would essentially notify each website the user visits that they want to opt-out of third party, advertising-based tracking. And Google just made a new Chrome extension available called Keep My Opt-Outs, which permanently opts your browser out of online ad personalization via cookies.

While these efforts are underway for our browsers, tools are also being developed for our social networks. WSJ just covered a new tool called uProtect.it, whose tagline is “Protection from Facebook on Facebook.” The free app encrypts your comments and posts, making them inaccessible to unwanted viewers, including Facebook itself.

This flurry of recent activity indicates a larger trend:

People may finally be ready to demand intuitive privacy settings, ownership of personal data, and opt-out rather than opt-in as a default.

While many would argue that openness and transparency are a good thing, it should be at an individual’s discretion to decide how public they want to be, and to have control over who gets to see what. In that positive vision of the future, we’re able to choose how we share and exchange information on a peer to peer level, and actually create value together, instead of having it extracted from us.

If that battle is lost, the web may continue to devolve into a playground for advertisers, embedded with increasingly fine-tuned mechanisms to exploit our preferences, behaviors, and social graph.
.
Don’t miss an article (2,200+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group!


Venessa MiemisVenessa Miemis is a Media Studies graduate student at the New School in NYC, exploring what happens at the intersection of technology, culture, and communication. Connect with her at www.emergentbydesign.com and on Twitter @venessamiemis.

No comments

  1. This comment, “exchange information on a peer to peer level, and actually create value together” is an excellent point and one I have been thinking about lately. Thank you for now making it more real and valdating, at least in my mind, that there is a business model emerging around one’s personal information and its various permutations.

  2. Its funny how facebook STILL doesn’t do anything about priacy issues after all the debate they’ve been involved in surrounding privacy… Alternative social networks would probably stand a chance now that facebook are having privacy issues. MyCube perhaps?

  3. It is true that all these browsers are offering ad ons but this is more likely due to privacy legislation being implemented around the globe rather than public demand. E.g. in the EU we have to implement legislation by May 2011 that inforces providing an option to opt out of 3rd party cookies.
    – We need to continue to develop legislation in this area,

    “”
    While many would argue that openness and transparency are a good thing, it should be at an individual’s discretion to decide how public they want to be, and to have control over who gets to see what. “”

    I think the problem is that the systems that are being developed are deliberatly built with confusion in mind – not making it transparent and easy for the user to understand privacy controls.
    Which is what this legislation is trying to enforce. – Hopefully they will see it through.

Leave a Reply