The PRISM scandal — in which the NSA has been accused of accessing data on people from Facebook, Google and other online service providers — has got the adtech business worried.
By focusing the nation’s attention on the ease with which private data can be collected online, might this provoke a backlash against online advertisers?
After all, they’ve been doing this for years, in various ways. Not for national security, but for their own lists and databases. And, of course, the extent of the government’s data collection from Google, Facebook et al. has turned out to be much smaller and more focused than initially feared.
Might PRISM get people thinking about how much of their private information they’re giving for free to online advertisers?
AdExchanger asked that question of several adtech execs recently, and we were most struck by the answer of Greg Sterling, the founder of Sterling Market Intelligence, a local search marketing consultancy. He noted that anyone who wants to control their privacy online is in for a shock. The only way to guard your data is to opt out of internet life almost entirely.
No Facebook. No Google.
And most people just aren’t going to do that.
“These are services that they use everyday like Google, Facebook, etc. and there’s really no alternative. Realistically there’s no choice in the matter for many people unless they were to completely stop using these tools and technologies that have become so ingrained in our lives.”
Read his full quote here, in which he gives a bit more context. Broadly, he believes consumers feel powerless because they don’t know what to do to guard their privacy.
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