Posted March 21, 2008 5:15 am by with 6 comments

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By David Snyder

A New York assemblyman has put together a bill that if passed will make it a punishable offense for certain Web companies to collect personal information about their users for advertising purposes without their consent. Richard L. Brodsky, the assemblyman who sponsored the bill, stated, “Should these companies be able to sell or use what’s essentially private data without permission? The easy answer is absolutely not.”

Such a law would be the first of its kind in the United States, setting a precedent that will undoubtedly shake companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, whose sponsored search platforms rely on such information.

If passed users would have to give explicit permission for companies to be able to utilize their personal data, such as search patterns.

In the New York Times on Friday Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania said:

“A law like this essentially takes some of the gold away from marketers. But it’s the right thing to do. Consumers have no idea how much information is being collected about them, and the advertising industry should have to deal with that.”

The major players have taken notice of the precedent this may set. Microsoft and Yahoo both sent lobbyists to meet Brodsky.

The Times article points out:

“Unlike most Web companies, Microsoft favors legislation about online privacy and advertising practices and has lobbied federal lawmakers to establish regulations, said Michael Hintze, associate general counsel for Microsoft.”

Oh, I wonder why?

Maybe because a bill such as this would put Google, a company that has been pushing corporate America to put more of its advertising dollars on to the Web, in at least an uncomfortable position. This piece of legislation, if passed, could provide the Web goliath its first real competition in years. How do you convince major advertisers to relinquish marketing dollars into a medium that many of them still see as experimental and that on top of that cannot be heavily monitored?

In a sense, internet marketing would lose a little of its allure as a targeted and inexpensive format.

Not to worry, however, the internet marketing doomsday is not yet here. If bills such as these were passed we would still be able to target through keyword selection, and we would still have generic traffic figures and market research information.

The concern of the major internet companies should peak our interest as marketers, however. If Mr. Brodsky and his plan were really nothing to be afraid of they would ignore it the way they do their users right to privacy.

About David Snyder

David Snyder is the online marketing manager for THAT Agency.

  • This would be not only bad for the major search engines but ultimately bad for the consumers too. In order to best advertise, the companies and search engines obviously need to know people’s buying habits and since the consumer seems to have more power these days, it can only in the end benefit them as companies can know what offers will ultimately work for both parties. Hopefully it won’t be passed.

  • David Snyder

    As an internet marketer I agree.

    As a consumer I disagree.

    FOX doesn’t have a chip in my television telling them what my viewing habits are, unless you volunteer for the broadcasters to be able to monitor that data by giving you a Nielsen box.

    The New York Times doesn’t know how their ads are effecting your purchasing methods unless you volunteer that information via survey.

    As an internet marketer I relish in how easy we are able to get accurate data in real time.

    But at what expense?

    I believe that consumers should feel comfortable with how they were chosen for a message as much as with the message itself, and as our real lives continue to merge with our online lives people may find it less and less comforting that their lives are being monitored for message targeting.

    I hope it doesn’t pass for purely selfish reasons, but I understand why it is gaining some favor outside of the internet world.

  • nyte

    myself i dont want my personal imformation all over the net thats why i use false names and never use my real address i think i should be safe at all times when surfing the net so i agree with the bill

  • its really necessary to have more than one email account. one for personal use, we give only to our family and trusted friends.

    and more email addys so we can sign up for a lot of freebies being offered around the internet.

    this is where the problem begins. most of these offers are double opt-in, so we cannot complain that the next offers they send us are spam.

  • Pingback: SearchCap: The Day In Search, March 21, 2008()

  • It remains to be seen, and its 2015 now; however, it is still necessary to have several email accounts.