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Advertisers – dealing with ISPs, search engine providers and specific Internet sites – are turning to a lot more powerful tools to assemble information about users so that they can more accurately target their ads. You can find, however, very few checks on what advertisers and providers can do with the data.

In fact, generally the only constraints on service providers in their collection and use of personal data are their own online privacy policy statements. Privacy advocates alert, however, that some providers don’t offer promises about privacy at all. As Stanley records, even sites and service providers that do offer privacy statements do so in the form of rarely read generally, difficult-to-understand and long documents buried under an obscure link on a Web site. As a total result, many if not most users don’t realize the extent of data being gathered about them and the uses to which it may be put.

With or without their knowledge, “people are providing information to a Web site for that site to supply them with something,” says Stanley. Most users are also unaware that their Internet searches are recorded and can be utilized for profiling. “Search on the internet records are very, very intrusive records,” says Stanley. Advertisers justify assortment of consumer data on two grounds.

First, they argue that advertising is crucial to keeping the net vibrant. “The great majority of … Web sites and services are provided to consumers free of charge currently,” Charles Curran, professional director of the Network Advertising Initiative, a business group, june informed a congressional hearing last. “Instead of requiring visitors to register and pay a subscription fee, the operators of Content and services subsidize their offerings with numerous kinds of advertising.

Second, advertisers claim the collection of user data helps marketers better serve consumers. “Targeted advertising is extraordinarily important for everybody,” says Dan Jaffe, vice chief executive of government relations for the Association of National Advertisers. That, he says, is because the more information advertisers have about users the fewer irrelevant ads shall be delivered to those users.

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Conversely, Jaffe says, restrictions on behavioral targeting won’t cut down on advertising. “A whole lot of people seem to believe that if they can stop behavioral advertising that they will somehow stop advertising,” he says. “Quite the contrary. Instead, you’ll see an explosion of untargeted ads. Berin Szoka, director of the Center for Internet Freedom, a task of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, a “market-oriented” think container in Washington, agrees. “I think industry can do that on its own,” says Szoka.

“We have to want companies to really make disclosures sturdy so that people really understand what they’re doing.” Then, he says, leave it up to the Federal Trade Commission to deal with companies that violate their privacy agreements. “They must be venturing out and locating the bad stars in industry and bringing enforcement actions against them truly,” Szoka urges.

Szoka provides that consumer education is another important part of the solution. “Might know about be doing here is trying to teach users about what is certainly going on online and empowering them to make decisions for themselves,” he says. “If you really are very online concerned about your privacy, you employ a simple tool. You can go into your web browser and use the basic cookie controls to choose out of browsing entirely, or site by site.