The political grandstanding on online data collection — tracking your browsing activity, habits, etc. — is just getting started. Next up: A pending bill in New York to regulate data collection and levy fines for violations. Mediapost gives both sides an airing.
The “pro-tracking” side has a tall hill to climb. The argument that the big, bad corporations are tracking you without your permission (or knowledge) packs a pretty strong emotional punch. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s response? Data collection is anonymous, doesn’t hurt anyone, and allows the big media companies to give away free stuff supported by more targeted advertising. IAB VP for public policy Mike Zaneis:
Absent consumer harm, why are we rushing to regulate this space — a medium that has been nothing but kind to consumers and provides free content and services to them?
The “anti-tracking” side contains the usual suspects, including Jeffrey Chester at the centre for Digital Democracy and Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. They’d rather see a federal law, but would take a state regulation in hopes it would be used as a template nationally. Here’s a bit of rhetorical flourish from the bill’s sponsor, state Assemblyman Richard Brodsky:
This is ‘1984,’ except Big Brother isn’t the government — it’s large corporations with an economic interest in your life and private behaviours.