Came across this brief June 8th, 2012 piece from the Wall Street Journal, “Romney Ads go Mobile.” The short version is that both the Romney & O’Bama campaigns are using data collected about online users (via an ad service) to target their messages to swing state voters. Makes perfect sense. Technical and marketing kudos to both teams. This lack of understanding really hurt McCain in the last election. Okay – so that’s about the technology – what does this have to do with Do Not Track?
This type of data collection and use is exactly what the DNT initiative is supposed to address. The data is not just used by advertisers, it is used by politicians, law enforcement, government and potentially insurance companies or other critical services businesses that can offer or deny us services. This is why organizations such as the ACLU and EFF are so actively involved in the DNT standard setting process. While the finger gets pointed at the behavioral targeting firms and ad engines, those in the civil rights community are far more concerned about these other uses of personal data. Ignorance is not bliss. Technology innovations outstrip our ability to understand all the long-term consequences – good or bad. Share or don’t share, but please be aware.