The moderator has delivered a final verdict.
Privacy should be the default
Ed Bott: If you want to follow me around and record my activities, you have to ask my permission first. Is that so hard to understand?
The American people seem to get it. When the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans earlier this year, they found that 68% of us are not OK with having our online behavior tracked and analyzed. That’s not just a majority, it’s a landslide.
Unfortunately, the online advertising industry doesn’t get it. They’re fighting to preserve their right to silently track everything you and I do online, and they’re winning. They’ve successfully watered down the voluntary Do Not Track standard so it will be practically meaningless when it goes into effect later this year.
Privacy protection shouldn’t be an option. It should be the default. And online advertisers should be required to respect our privacy or face consequences.
Free sites worth a few tracking cookies
Chris Dawson: By default, privacy advocates want browsers to be set to prevent tracking. Advertisers and ad networks, of course, want users, at a minimum, to explicitly opt out of tracking. While the ability to turn off tracking is quite reasonable, a default no-track setting would have devastating effects on the web advertising industry. This is the industry that makes sites like freetech4teachers.com and Weather Underground possible.
Running a website, after all, isn't free. If ad networks go by the wayside, then site owners will be left scrambling for sponsors and building partnerships rather than delivering high-value content. Are the free websites you visit every day worth a few tracking cookies? Because without the tracking functions, ads displayed through the networks won't be targeted. And without the targeting, advertisers will be paying a whole lot less for access to the networks and for far fewer revenue-generating click-throughs.