December 26, 2008
One of the most controversial topics online is privacy. On the one hand there are the advertisers and content providers (and those who do both) like Google. They say that keeping user statistics is essential to offering more effective advertising, which in turn is key to generating more revenue and being able to provide users with more content.
However, to some users and consumer advocacy groups data retention, particularly by search engine giants like Yahoo and Google, represents a cohesive invasion of privacy that would not have been possible offline. They say that the potential for abuse of information such as medical searches is too great and that search engines should cut down on their data retention and anonymize data. Anonymous data would allow for slightly more effective ads than unresearched advertising, but it would be less effective than user targeted ads. It’s a necessary loss, say some.
One consumer advocacy group is making waves by demanding the internet’s largest information gatherer — Google — give users an easy way of opting out of data collection entirely. Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court and Policy Advocate John M. Simpson sent a letter to Google, asking that the company allow users a way to block Google from gathering information on users’ search queries, IP addresses and cookies.