Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Who’s Watching Google Watch You? Web Publishers Face Congress Today.

Here’s a nice way to visualize the Internet privacy debate, circa 2009: Google’s assessment of what I’m interested in, at least when it comes to Web browsing (click to enlarge):

google-ad-preference

That listing comes from Google’s “Ad Preferences” management page, and I think it’s pretty good litmus test for the Web privacy debate. The advertising business will argue that this represents a good-faith effort by Google to figure out what kind of marketing messages I’ll be interested in and will note the button allowing me to opt out of tracking altogether. Privacy advocates will argue that this is creepy and note that 99.99 percent of Google users will never see this page to begin with.

As for me? I’m dismayed to see how boring I am.

If this sort of debate interests you–and if you’re in any way involved in a Web-based advertising business, it should–you’ll want to keep tabs on today’s Congressional hearing on “Behavioral Advertising:  Industry Practices and Consumers’ Expectations,” which starts at 10 am Eastern time.

Overseeing the proceedings: Rick Boucher, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, who has already said he wants to regulate behavioral ads rather than allowing the industry to oversee itself. On hand to tell him why he’s wrong will be reps from Facebook, Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO).

I’m assuming the event is Webcast but can’t find a link. If you can, please let us know in comments below.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik