Monday, April 14, 2014

Online Privacy and the Federal Government

     One of the readings for week thirteen, Jeffrey Rosen's "Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?" discusses how data aggregators like BlueKai sell data about consumers so that advertisers can offer more tailored placements. Rosen also notes that BlueKai offers consumers the ability to opt-out of its tracking, and also allows consumers to see what kind of information is being shared. On April 14th I visited BlueKai's site, and was informed that, "We currently do not have any anonymous data on you." Most likely, this is because I was using a public computer. I also learned that Oracle purchased BlueKai on April 2nd. According to a Reuters article, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Business Insider reported that it was to be a $400 million purchase.
     In a week dealing with online privacy, it seems poignant to discuss Barack Obama's "Plan to Protect Privacy in the Internet Age by Adopting a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," which is available on the White House Web site. This was released in February of 2012, but it does not seem as if much progress has been made. This is a lofty plan, and key phrases like "individual control" and "transparency" are used. To assist with these goals, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) convened Internet companies and consumer advocates to discuss implementing more stringent consumer protections on the Internet, especially regarding mobile applications. Stakeholders at the meetings included Verizon, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Application Developers Alliance. The first meeting was in June 2012, and by July 2013 the Code of Conduct to Promote Transparency in Mobile App Practices was developed. In part, users of this voluntary code of conduct agree that the applications will inform the user of the types of information that will be collected, and how it will be used.

Obama, Barack. "Plan to Protect Privacy in the Internet Age by Adopting a Consumer Privacy Bill  
     of  Rights." The White House. 23 February 2012. Web. 14 April 2014.

"Oracle to buy online data management startup BlueKai." Reuters. 24 February 2014. Web. 14 April
"Privacy Multistakeholder Process: Mobile Application Transparency." National 
     Telecommunications  & Information Administration. 12 November 2013. Web. 14 April 2014.

Rosen, Jeffrey. "Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?" The New York Times. 30 November 
     2012. Web. 3 December 2012.

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