Sunday, January 29, 2006

Convenience (Laziness) vs. Privacy

BBC NEWS - Will convenience beat privacy? This BBC story cuts to the true source of privacy issues - whereupon we prefer not having to re-fill out forms to the degree that the Gator application by Claria Corporation became nearly a $100 million a year company by selling advertisements through pop-up ads with their adware in 2003 (along with several competitors).

This story outlines how our laziness when it comes to filling out forms means that we are willing to sell our information to companies doing business with middleware firms to store that data for us. The latest development in this line is called AttentionTrust, which is being touted as a way to share your informtion with online companies through a supposedly trusted third party site.

Trust is the big thing we have to swallow here. No matter who we turn over information to, we must assign huge doses of trust that they will treat our data with care, protect it from both internal and external bad guys and never sell it or provide it to any source without our explicit permission.

Unfortunately estimates of the number of people who actually read web site privacy policies range from as much as half of all site visitors (extremely doubtful) to about 3% (probably still optimistic). We don't want to be bothered to take the time, even though the data we willingly provide is often sensitive info like credit card numbers, phone numbers, email addresses and street addresses.

We must be aware that all information given to any web site is then considered their property to do with as they wish. Many times that means selling to affiliated web sites or business partners, vendors and advertisers. We are much too lax with our sensitive information. This is the reason that so many are duped by spoofed emails appearing to come from their financial institutions or from PayPal.

People will give away far too much information in order to have the CHANCE of winning a prize and retailers and marketers are painfully aware of this. The reason for giveaways and promotions is simply to gather this valuable information and either USE it to sell things to participants or to sell it to marketing firms and the like. People need to learn to keep hold of their information without giving in to the temptation toward laziness for filling out forms (Claria's Gator) or giving it away to gain the CHANCE for a prize on every web site or giveaway in the mall.

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posted by RealitySEO at 2:51 PM


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