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FTC Commissioner To Push “Reclaim Your Name” Privacy Initiative

computer-security3The never ending battle for possession of consumer data looks to be taking a significant swing in the direction of the consumers themselves if Julie Brill, an FTC commissioner gets her way.

Network World reports

U.S. consumers should be able to reclaim control of their personal data from data brokers, websites and other companies, a member of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.

Commissioner Julie Brill, a long-time privacy advocate, will push for an initiative called Reclaim Your Name that would give consumers knowledge and technology tools to reassert control over personal data held by companies, she said. Consumers should be “the ones to decide how much to share, with whom and for what purpose,” Brill said during the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

The general idea should strike some fear in the hearts of marketers and the sites that need to get as much data as they can on people in order to more accurately market products and services to them. The article continues

Reclaim Your Name would allow consumers to find out how data brokers and other companies are collecting and using data, give them access to the data collected and allow them to opt out of collection for marketing purposes, Brill said.

In some cases, big data collectors are “taking advantage of us without our permission,” Brill said. “Often without consent or warning, and sometimes in completely surprising ways, big data analysts are tracking our every click and purchase, examining them to determine exactly who we are — establishing our name, good or otherwise — and retaining the information in dossiers that we know nothing about, much less consent to.”

By this point in the conversation most marketers are thinking it’s a data Armegeddon of sorts. The final show down between marketers and consumers. That makes for fun posts and plenty of media fodder but let’s take a little closer look at the part of the story that many love to avoid. It’s called reality.

The reality is that if this initiative is left to the consumer to initiate and manage, the number of people taken out of the system will likely be pretty low. Of those that will be the first in line are the conspiracy theorists who are working hard not to be found anyway and are probably not even good consumer targets unless you are selling underground bunkers, ammo and canned goods.

The next group will the the tech savvy but they can be reached in other ways. Oh and by the way, they aren’t swayed by ads no matter how targeted they are. They will not click on an ad intentionally and will do their own research if something catches their eye. This is why display is still critical for branding no matter how much people want to throw dirt on it.

That leaves the vast majority of people who may never know that they could control their data and even if they did they would probably not take the time to secure it. This is the general buying public who is most susceptible to the charms of marketers.

That said, even if Ms. Brill gets her nifty sounding program off the ground the real impact to marketers is likely to be negligible.

So sound off. Do you agree or disagree?