Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mad Av and Sili Valley to human beings: “F-you and the privacy settings you rode in on! We’ll track you if we want to.”

Target Marketing magazine's subscribers are people whose businesses live or die based in part on the quality of the lists they use –  for sending you junk mail, e-mails, or popup ads, to name just a few “data driven” sales tools.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered, in an online version of Target Marketing, a story with this headline: “DAA Refuses to Enforce Do-Not-Track Default Browser Settings.”

DAA? That would be something called the Digital Advertising Alliance, a consortium of associations including the American Association of Advertising Agencies, The American Advertising Federation, The Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and (has the dizzying alphabet soup of names made you seasick yet?) the Network Advertising Initiative.

What you need to know about this consortium of jokers is that for some reason they’re simply not thrilled with the Do Not Track settings in your Microsoft Internet Explorer version 10, and intend to disregard them. Your only recourse is to go to a DAA website and jump through hoops to avoid, umm, receiving information you don’t want. Whether that means you nevertheless will continue to  share information about what you’re watching or reading that you don't want to share isn’t made entirely clear.

Interestingly, a  press release in which the DAA nearly broke its arm patting itself on the back for “self regulation,” it doesn’t mention the fact that it’s refusing to let you exercise your freedom to use your Explorer do-not-track settings. Instead, it rears back on its hind legs and virtually dares you to cut your way through a tangle of nearly impenetrable prose, like this:
Representing more than 5,000 member companies, these [DAA member] associations have come together in an initiative to develop and implement self-regulation for the collection of web viewing data, in order to optimally assure transparency and trust in and consumers' control over their interactive advertising environments. The DAA administers the implementation of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising and for Multi-Site Data ("DAA Principles").
But their meaning was made clear – and it ain’t privacy friendly – in this interview with Lou Mastria, the “chief privacy officer.”

And if you don’t have all day to read Mastria's self-serving interview responses, let me tell you what it boils down to: all you have to do when you arrive at a web page is look for some silly little symbol in the upper right hand corner, and if it’s there, click on it to begin the process of adjusting your privacy settings – for that web page.

A royal pain in the butt? Yet another chore imposed on you by those ad and silica guys? A well-unpublicized ordeal you have to go through at most every web page once the DAA gets around to educating you, which Mastria promises to do sometime or other?

Nah! Whatever gave you that idea?

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