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US Consumers Clueless About Online Tracking

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the just-pretend-nobody's-watching dept.

Privacy 228

Arashtamere writes "A study on consumer perceptions about online privacy, undertaken by the Samuelson Clinic at the University of California and the Annenberg Public Policy Center, found that the average American consumer is largely unaware that every move they make online can be, and often is, tracked by online marketers and advertising networks. Those surveyed showed little knowledge on the extent to which online tracking is happening or how the information obtained can be used. More than half of those surveyed — about 55 percent — falsely assumed that a company's privacy polices prohibited it from sharing their addresses and purchases with affiliated companies. Nearly four out of 10 online shoppers falsely believed that a company's privacy policy prohibits it from using information to analyze an individuals' activities online. And a similar number assumed that an online privacy policy meant that a company they're doing business with wouldn't collect data on their online activities and combine it with other information to create a behavioral profile."

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Disclaimers aside... (3, Insightful)

SIGALRM (784769) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249257)

Dear online marketer,

Privacy is about more than legal compliance, it's fundamentally about user trust. Be transparent with your users about your privacy practices. If your users don't trust you, you're out of business.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (5, Interesting)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249365)

I think you missed the point. Joe Consumer does trust Mr. Marketer, but that trust is misplaced. The problem isn't lack of transparency: it's that Joe Consumer actually doesn't really give a shit one way or the other.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (2, Insightful)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249423)

The problem isn't lack of transparency: it's that Joe Consumer actually doesn't really give a shit one way or the other.
The same way Joe Consumer has been done over by the banks. Of course he doesn't really feel it yet.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249459)

Joe Consumer actually doesn't really give a shit one way or the other.

This is what your run-of-the-mill Slashbot fails to grasp. Most people just don't care. And any attempt at educating family and friends (or the masses) goes in one ear and out the other.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (2, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249507)

Oh, we know. We observe it every time we fix their malware-ridden computers.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249793)

Oh, we know. We observe it every time we fix their malware-ridden computers.

While we smile inwardly, knowing we will soon get more money out of them for doing the same thing again. If they are close relatives we know we will get at least a meal out of it and their equip once they get tired of al the malware.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (1, Redundant)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249659)

Thank you. I was just about to post something like that.

Personally, I know and fully understand online tracking and all the privacy implications and yet I still don't care. Hell, if "they" can figure out a way to replace the generic tampon commercials with targeted adverts for the newest Aston Martin I'm a happy guy.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (2, Insightful)

clsours (1089711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249393)

If your users don't trust you, you're out of business.

Unfortunately, this shows that the users do not know enough not to trust online services. Also unfortunately, (often) the only way to remove yourself from the grasp of these people is to opt out of their services, which is bad business and bad service.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250139)

That is if you can figure out where to opt out of the service. I habitually block third party cookies and have any session cookies set to be deleted at the end of the session. I'll allow a few cookies to set up permanent residence, but only if I think that it is in my best interest rather than some advertiser that isn't securing my data. And it is my data, they may have collected it, but it belongs to me.

I'm probably still being tracked its just that the amount of tracking info is limited to 1 session. The irritating thing tends to be the targeted crap ads that crash the browser or the flash ads that randomly expand to cover most of the screen, with a nonstandard way of closing them.

I'd like a opt out list, I'm not hopeful, as I wouldn't trust such a set up to begin with.

Re:Disclaimers aside... (2)

zgregoryg (1061612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249487)

No surprise people don't understand a privacy concept as simple as this; when one considers the overall public acceptance of the Patriot Act. Oh dang; now I expect to receive a visit from the spooks and day now...

Re:Disclaimers aside... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250049)

Dear concerned person,

Our surveys (see story above) show that customers don't give a rat's ass as long as it's cheap.

U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249277)

>" US Consumers Clueless About Online Tracking"

US Consumers Clueless.

There, fixed it for you.

Really, its not just online tracking ... there are SO many things, from food packaging and labeling to software to car mileage figures to taxes to rights.

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (2, Informative)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249411)

US Consumers Clueless. There, fixed it for you.
Consumers Clueless

There, fixed it for you without being a troll.

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (1, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249859)

No idiot. Its 'US Clueless'.

Who else would vote a ape in as president? :)

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250275)

You'll have to excuse him...he's from the US.

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249891)

You're absolutely right. Pretty much all consumers are clueless. No wonder - their chief source of information about a product is advertising.

Look at how many by sugar water labeled as "Grape Drink" or "Orange Drink", thinking that there must be real juice in it, because they won't take the time to read the label, and manufacturers aren't required to state in bold letters "THIS IS NOT REAL FRUIT JUICE". Or "Best mileage in its class!" - which really means "it sucks gas, so we made a 'class' with others that suck even more for bogus comparison purposes". Or "dermatologist - recommended". Or the P4s that were, clock tick for clock tick, slower than the P3s, but would "enhance your multimedia experience."

Maybe public education should include classes in Critical Analysis of Ad Claims 101 and Weasel Word Composition.

Amazon+Google+CraigsList = we have your number! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250517)

And turning cookies off doesn't work any more, btw.
Do a view source on this page. See those two URLs not associated with Slashdot?
Oh, we know about you.
We definitely know.

Google --> access to Amazon --> access to Craigs.
Our only problem now is merging your "Consumer Profile" with your cell phone call list.

Which we have, since nobody bothered to opt out.
Luckily for us, LISP was able to handle that.

In a week or so, when SCOTUS signs off on all your bits and packets, and it will...
Santa won't be the only one who knows if you've been naughty or nice.

- a disgruntled minion :)

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (2, Insightful)

Assassin bug (835070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250497)

... and we are all consumers.

Slashbots Arrogant (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249547)

It's funny how the slashbots think they're so superior and more intelligent than the general public.

Meanwhile you people go apeshit over the latest Apple product, Intel processor or Linux gadget.

Stop being so smug and arrogant, and you might be able to get laid for once in your life.

Re:Slashbots Arrogant (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249997)

> It's funny how the slashbots think they're so superior and more intelligent than the general public.

I've spent enough time explaining to others the difference between sugar water labeled "Orange Drink" and real orange juice. Has nothing to do with intelligence, just healthy cynicism and a knowledge of some of the restrictions on labeling which have appeared in the media.

> Meanwhile you people go apeshit over the latest Apple product, Intel processor or Linux gadget.

Sorry, but I don't own a single Apple product, and never have. My current cpu is an AMD Sempron 2600 that's on its second motherboard (I don't need the "latest and greatest" - let others pay the premium). Linux gadget? I guess the set-top box qualifies ... all my boxes run linux, so okay, I'll give you that one.

> Stop being so smug and arrogant, and you might be able to get laid for once in your life.

Come on, do you expect me to believe the stork brought my kids into the world?

Look, the fact is that a lot of the consumers out there ARE stupid. They buy stuff they don't even really want. Look at all the phoney claims for shampoos - "the science of silkience - scanner photography reveals blah blah blah ..." "Red bull gives you wings!" Yeah, right, whatever ... but it got people to buy it.

Re:Slashbots Arrogant (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250197)

we only go apeshit over the newest processor when it is 25% or more faster then the last one of the same type, or like 7% faster then any previous one.

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (3, Insightful)

smardrengr (1184939) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249831)

That's true. But tracking *things* has different implications than tracking *people*. When tracking something that is fairly disconnected from individuals, such as vehicle mileage, it's less intrusive than tracking people by, say, the cell phone (which is tracking a thing, but feels very much like an invasion of privacy to most). When you track somthing like purchasing habits, you are in a sense monitoring behaviour, which is getting closer to tracking the person, a la 1984. But not all tracking is evil. I've been noticing an increasing number of cases where companyies' safety or productivity concerns with drivers leads to an adoption of GPS vehicle tracking in fleet vehicles. Employees first resist, then accept it as a fact of life (hey, they are company vehicles, what are you going to do?). But then something unexpected happens--company vehicle is stolen--and then gets recovered (along with the thief), in less than an hour. In such cases, no one complains about tracking, since it has benefitted the company, the employee (he can still work), and society (one less car thief to worry about). A couple interesting newscasts on such events: http://www.gpspolice.com/videos/ [gpspolice.com] Oh yeah, and you gotta love that this potential "invasion of privacy" (vehicle tracking system) enables the one employee to get his [stolen] dog back. ...Smar

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250029)

... psst ... I wasn't referring to tracking mileage - I was referring to bogus mileage estimates. you know - estimated miles per gallon your results may vary test simulates an ideal road with the car going downhill 4 midgets pushing and tires inflated to 120 psi to reduce rolling resistance all stops eliminated from route ambient temperature of 68 degrees F. engine previously warmed up to operating temperature consult your doctor if erection persists more than 48 hours.

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250137)

I was just about to point this out. But the administration likes the subjects clueless. Hell, they might even elect Bush for a 3rd season if they dun't know it's not possible!

how fitting: the CAPTCHA for this post was 'sadden'...

Every move you make (1)

zildgulf (1116981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250457)

Every move you make
Every fish you bake
I'll be watching yooooooou

(BAD SOUSAPHONE SOLO, with apologies to Sting)

I couldn't help it.

Re:U. S. Consumers Clueless ... (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250585)

Do you buy stuff in the US? Then you are a US consumer, and by your assertion, clueless. Thanks for playing.

Who did this study? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249291)

The Department of the Obvious?

Re:Who did this study? (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249445)

The Department of the Obvious?
Nah, the Department of the Oblivious

Re:Who did this study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249763)

No, The Department of the Obvious Department, Obviously.

But... (2, Funny)

Jmanamj (1077749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249333)

But I can just change my browser options to "don't save filled forms" and all the stuff I search for on Google isn't saved right?

Nobody could ever get that information.

Re:But... (1)

Volatar (1099775) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249355)

No, that makes it so everyone BUT you can get that information.

Re:But... (1, Flamebait)

andreyvul (1176115) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249359)

US customers are too clueless to change their browser options.
Also, a privacy policy is like a EULA: only lawyers can understand what it means and the rest of us blindly accept.

US Consumers Clueless... (-1, Redundant)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249339)

That's really as long as the title actually needed to be.

astonishing (4, Insightful)

BenVis (795521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249343)

I am not sure which is more astonishing: That so few people have bothered to read the privacy policies of the web sites they frequent, or that there are people who think the solution is legislation [slashdot.org] .

Re:astonishing (4, Insightful)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249599)

[astonishing ...] there are people who think the solution is legislation

A very valid point. The solutions to most of the Internet's privacy problems lie in software design, such as default encryption and anomymizing of traffic. Although nobody can force Microsoft to create a half decent browser, or anything else for that matter, we can at least encourage open source software developers to reduce the end-user's internet fingerprint. Sure, anyone who is interested in not being followed around on the 'net can achieve this by installing a couple of firefox plugins and so on, but the way for the privacy conscious to protect themselves best is to encourage everyone else to do the same.

If we consider privacy infringement being akin to getting syphilis, then apart from not using the internet (abstinence), or installing and configuring extra software (condoms, which fall off, or don't get used in the first place), the only option is to supply people with genitalia which is pre-shrink-wrapped, if you get my drift.

Re:astonishing (2, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249667)

I don't know about you, but i've never had a condom fall off, maybe you have micro penis?

In Canada ... (2, Interesting)

debrain (29228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249379)

... the consumers would be correct. [privcom.gc.ca]

US consumers are clueless about technology (3, Informative)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249385)

US consumers are clueless about technology in general. If you would ask the average person if they know simple computer concepts such as partitioning and operating systems they are clueless, never mind how the Internet works. Many times, I have been malevolent tech support (face it, we all have had to fill that role) and people couldn't tell me what the operating system they were running was! They were even more clueless about the processor they were running despite a bold sticker telling you on your computer case. So how can consumers be assumed to know a thing about the internet when most can't even tell you what OS they are running.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (3, Funny)

the angrybaby (1157319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249457)

So true about the OS thing...One time this guy told me that NORTON was his operating system.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249559)

I take it you haven't used Norton lately. His confusion is quite understandable. Actually, he may even be correct.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250083)

Is that in any way better than:

Word
Office
Intel
IBM
"the one with the icons"

or my personal favorite

"What do you mean "which one?", I have a computer!"

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (0, Troll)

dosius (230542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249551)

So what's new? Americans are clueless about everything.

-uso.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (4, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249909)

That is a damned lie!!

Americans are experts on one or more of the following:
- American Idol
- What Brittany spears and/or Paris Hilton are up to
- Who beat who in football/basketball/baseball this week
- What happened in TV shows like Gray's Anatomy/House/Desperate Housewives/etc
- How to text and talk on the cell phone, even in stores and while standing in line.
- How to drive like an asshole
- Geography

Ok, that last one was a joke :)

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (2, Funny)

Pie-rate (1098693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250433)

"- How to text and talk on the cell phone, even in stores and while standing in line.
- How to drive like an asshole"
Don't forget:
- How to drive and talk or even drive and text at the same time.

Oh, and generalizations make you a moron, which means you clearly belong here in the USA. Please report to the nearest airport. (On the off chance that you're a durkadurkasthani, try not to bomb it)

Why yes, I did just contradict myself 3 or more times. I can't be bothered to count, though, and I probably wouldn't be able to because I'm american.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (0)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250499)

Ouf, I was like "WTF?!" until I read the last line.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (5, Insightful)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250015)

They were even more clueless about the processor they were running
Tell me about it, I worked at this gas station when I was a teenager and people would come in and fill up the tank without the least bit of knowledge how gasoline was refined, or if their OBDC used SAE J1850 VPW or SAE J1850 PWM communication patterns.

You'd think that if someone is going to buy a car, that they would know everything a certified mechanic knew.

Or, maybe the people that you talked to when you were tech support were just using their computers for entertainment and have neither the need nor the desire to "get under the hood" of the computer.

Typically people in tech support forget that they are paid to support the person calling them, not the other way around. I understand dealing with the public can be a pain in the ass, but if you don't like it, do your profession and the public a favor and quit.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (3, Insightful)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250057)

> US consumers are clueless about technology in general. If you would ask the average
> person if they know simple computer concepts such as partitioning and operating systems...

As a tech person, perhaps you think regular consumers should be able to partition their hard drives, but for most people computers and hi-tech gadgets are tools no matter how prevalent or even how important they are in our lives. They don't care how their hard drives are virtually divided for use by their OS, and why should they? I know how it works because I'm interested in technology and I chose to program computers, but I know this is not what life is about.

Perhaps it is ridiculous for people not to know what operating system they run, but again why should they care? It's a tool they use to type stuff, check email, and surf the web, and even when it doesn't work, they just want somebody to make it work again. They don't want to know anything about it, and ideally they shouldn't need to know anything about it. All they should have to know is how to make it do what they want.

Hopefully we can get software to the point that it is that simple to use. Of course you and me can continue to hack at our command lines, but I don't see a problem with people only being concerned with what they want to be concerned with, and that often does not include knowing how to partition hard drives.

Now going back to the topic and on the other hand, I definitely think people should be fully aware of who has access to information about them. This is completely different from consumers needing to know about technology.

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250237)

I think you've oversimplified it a bit; I'd consider knowing what OS your running to be similar to knowing the make and model of your car. If people don't know what sort of computer they are running its like ringing up a mechanic and replying when they ask what sort of car you have; "Um, a red one?"

Re:US consumers are clueless about technology (2, Insightful)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250475)

Pardon, but do you have any clue how the SIM card in your phone or the data stripe on your credit card are partitioned? Do you care, regardless of how important a phone or a credit card is to you? no. It's a black box. It does its job.
Does that make you any more clueless? no. Simply uninterested in the workings of a particular bit of technology. Just as you can point to things those people are disinterested in figuring out in a higher level of detail, I can find a similar number of things you would be disinterested in too.

I'm a sysadmin/coder who studies biochemistry. Chances are you can't explain how, say, a simple battery or perhaps a fuel cell works on a biochemical level. I can. So? Am I better than you? less clueless than you? What can I infer about you from this? Nothing really. Chances are I know stuff you don't, you know stuff I don't, and the users you bash know shit neither of us does.

From your wild proclamations about users you really want to feel smarter than, I can, however, infer about you quite a bit.

Honestly though... (1)

the angrybaby (1157319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249431)

Are people really surprised by this? I mean consider the mind-set of a non-techie:

"Hmm in the real world, if I do something without anyone seeing it, then nobody knows right? It must apply to the computer as well, since I can't see anyone else watching me"

Sure we laugh at it, but that's what some people think...hell I'm sure the majority of the population doesn't even understand that the "internet" isn't even a place, just a bunch of connections (or a series of tubes, your pick ;)

Re:Honestly though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249523)

I used to have that exact argument with my brother. He understands that it's really just a bunch of computers hooked together (super-layman explanation) but he would argue that he can go to this "place" and be with other people in some type of alternate dimension or something. I told him that place is in his living room and those people are also in theirs. No place about it.

Not just online tracking... (3, Insightful)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249461)

Does everyone think that Walmart and every other large retailer doesn't track the purchases made with the same credit/debit card? When you use a single identifiable item for so many things, it makes your behavior very easy to predict and to take advantage of. Say hello to Big Visa.

Re:Not just online tracking... (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250081)

If by "take advantage of" you mean "sell products to". The whole point is that they want to advertise things you'd be interested in, rather than pay to bombard you with adds that you couldn't care less about. If you're going to be staring at a wal-mart add anyway, it might as well be for something you'd actually consider buying!

No Real Surprise (2, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249463)

Nearly four out of 10 online shoppers falsely believed that a company's privacy policy prohibits it from using information to analyze an individuals' activities online.
This isn't particularly surprising. How many people actually read the privacy policies?

Re:No Real Surprise (2, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249951)

Better yet, how many people think privacy policies actually mean anything? Ever read one? The whole thing contradicts itself in so much legalese. It states that your information won't be given out, and then describes exactly how it will be given out (to anyone who pays for it).

Re:No Real Surprise (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250323)

I do, they are interesting with all the dumb things people agree too without realizing it. There should be some sort of a standard privacy policy built in to everything or sum thing and anything extra a company adds in should be in BIG LETTERS and really short so people can and will read it and will not buy the product.

Re:No Real Surprise (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250609)

I read them. PayPal lost a potential customer when I read theirs.

-:sigma.SB

Firefox plugin to scramble marketers' cookies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249513)

Is there a Firefox plugin that randomly scrambles the data of cookies from known marketers? It'd be best if it kept the data true to form, by perhaps just flipping random bits within the existing cookie values.

every third slashdot story (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249535)

US Consumers Clueless about X

Re:every third slashdot story (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249537)

There is a good reason for that.

Re:every third slashdot story (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250099)

At least you can't say /. is spreading lies.

Re:every third slashdot story (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250487)

US Consumers Clueless about X

We could leave more room for other stories if we just ran more more titled simply "U.S. Consumers Clueless"

i keep waiting for the day (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249545)

that a massive wave of realization crosses the minds of the average slashdot reader/ editor: the average guy on the street doesn't care. some slashdot readers are shocked, shocked i tell you, to find out that a lot of people don't treat their private life with the security protocols of a swiss bank. because they simply don't care

and honestly? i side with the average guy on the street with (non)this issue. the average guy on the street looks at the data generated from his random meanderings on the web as useless, unimportant, and not a matter of privacy. and you know what?: he's right. frankly, that some database might know what i visited on eBay, then amazon.com, then netflix is not some horrible raping of my psyche. it really isn't

someone could track the wanderings of people around the supermarket too. is that information deeply personal to you? it is? so then that means you define your deeply personal identity based on what aisle you walk down in in the supermarket? pffft

then they use that information to pitch DVD titles at you, or pasta, or a hallmark card

oh my god. some database knows i bought pepto bismol. now it wants to sell me toilet paper. MY PERSONAL IDENTITY HAS BEEN HORRIBLY RAPED. I HAVE BEEN DEHUMANIZED AND DEMEANED. MY SENSE OF SELF-WORTH IS LOWERED. IT'S ORWELL'S 1984

pfffffffffft

next nonissue please

Re:i keep waiting for the day (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249829)

I guess you didn't read the article?

Yeah, yeah, I know it's slashdot and all...

The study found that people do actually care. Their behavior is not due to not caring about the tracking that is going on but being completely ignorant that there is any tracking at all going on.

yeah they care (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249897)

i mean just look at them picketing and writing to their congresspeople and agitating and marching and speaking out, etc., etc.

they care with the same gusto you do when some guy at a party goes "i'm telling you, you want to see my brother's band play tomorrow night"

"oh yeah, sounds great, i'll be there, it's important to me, i care"

no they don't. they "care" because they're taking a survey where the issue they don't know about, are not involved in, and never heard about before is being shoved in their face

Re:i keep waiting for the day (3, Insightful)

Jaerin (135695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249911)

Read the article or not, I don't care either...

Sensationalist privacy zealots are afraid of their own shadow. They live in a world that is about to break down their door for god only knows or cares what. Why the paranoia? Are you doing something that someone should care about?

I look at porn, I shop online, I've bought a butt plug online before...do you feel more powerful for knowing that? Do I feel guilty, ashamed, or concerned with the fact that you know this? No, so why would anyone else care? If someone really did care, that means I have a stalker, and I think it's kinda cool if I had a real stalker. I little creeped out, but still strangely proud.

Go about your business, live your life, let everyone else live theirs, and spend more time changing the things that are going to make your life suck like the fact that our planet is about to push the big reset button if we don't get our shit together.

Re:i keep waiting for the day (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250095)

I look at porn, I shop online, I've bought a butt plug online before...do you feel more powerful for knowing that?
No, but you should feel a whole hell of a lot weaker.

You can never have a career in public politics.
When times are tough and you find yourself desperate enough to take any job to feed your children, you won't have a chance at companies run by members of the 'moral majority' who decide to do background checks.

Pray you are lucky enough that neither of those, nor any number of other scenarios ever come about for you personally. But unless the useful idiots like yourself get a clue, its guaranteed to happen to more than enough people to damage our society.

Re:i keep waiting for the day (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249947)

The study found that people do actually care. Their behavior is not due to not caring about the tracking that is going on but being completely ignorant that there is any tracking at all going on.

They care so much that they don't bother to find out whether they are tracked.

When people really care about something, they do something about it. Folks will say they care about things when you ask them. In reality, they don't.

Re:i keep waiting for the day (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250113)

They care so much that they don't bother to find out whether they are tracked.
No, they believe they are not being tracked. Do you bother to make sure that the next day the sun will rise? Presumably you would care a whole helluva lot if it didn't.

Re:i keep waiting for the day (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250309)

Do you bother to make sure that the next day the sun will rise?

In this state, we have a whole government department dedicated to making it rise. Pepsico and TIAA/CREF almost stopped it from rising last year, but the budget was increased just in time and the Dept. of Light and Warmth fought them off.

This year, the cold-hearted forces of darkness want to cut the budget to only 129% of last year's budget. I'm worried about the sun's chances and I told them so when they surveyed me.

Re:i keep waiting for the day (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249971)

The average person on the street may never realize that he/she is getting diverted to the 3rd world tech support line, or not getting the best credit card rate, savings account rate, sales price on goods and services, etc., etc. because the database indicates that he/she doesn't rank high enough to be worthy.


Its not just the crap that they'll market to you. You can ignore that. Its the stuff that you can't have because, quite frankly, you live in the wrong neighborhood.

Re:i keep waiting for the day (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249975)

and honestly? i side with the average guy on the street with (non)this issue. the average guy on the street looks at the data generated from his random meanderings on the web as useless, unimportant, and not a matter of privacy. and you know what?: he's right. frankly, that some database might know what i visited on eBay, then amazon.com, then netflix is not some horrible raping of my psyche. it really isn't

It isn't when it's some third-party non-important entity looking at your surfing habits. However, it is very much an issue when the government decides that because you are waiving your Constitutional rights [slashdot.org] they can subpoena that same information to use as part of their illegal nationwide net of information on citizens.

I'm sorry if YOU are lumped in with the general uncaring public about something that shouldn't be the business of any group of Marketers, government agencies, or anyone except /dev/null but you're fucking insane if you don't think it's important to protect your privacy.

Thanks for offering me the chance to bite, I enjoy it sometimes.

the fallacy of the slippery slope (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250531)

let me illustrate for you how hysteria and panic and fear get turned into slippery slope arguments:

if you let homosexual men marry, next you will have to make pedophilia, rape, incest, bestiality and necrophilia legal

do you believe that? i will take a guess and say no

such a thought, is, of course, complete bullshit: people can tell the difference between a gay man and a corpse fucker

but in the mind of some social conservatives, THEY REALLY BELIEVE THIS

why? because their slippery slope argument really is nothing but a proxy for fear, panic, hysteria. not rational thought

in the exact same way do you talk above

the average well adjusted person can easily tell the difference between the government shifting for terrorists and netflix shifting for forrest gump. just as easily as a well adjusted person can tell the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia

but social conservatives can't tell that difference, IN THE EXACT SAME WAY you can't tell the difference between neglible trangressions of types of privacy no one cares about and all out tyranny

and they, like, you, rationalize their fear and hysteria with the exact same bullshit slippery slope argument

no, you spastic wierdo, THERE IS NO SLIPPERY SLOPE

you may now conclude that i am a secret advance agent of the coming fascism ;-P

Re:i keep waiting for the day (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250005)

oh my god. some database knows i bought pepto bismol. now it wants to sell me toilet paper. MY PERSONAL IDENTITY HAS BEEN HORRIBLY RAPED. I HAVE BEEN DEHUMANIZED AND DEMEANED. MY SENSE OF SELF-WORTH IS LOWERED. IT'S ORWELL'S 1984
Due to your regular purchasing of Pepto Bismal we have increased your HPPR (Health Problem Probability Rating) for gastrointestinal cancer to the high-risk group. Consquently we are increasing your health insurance premium by $200/month to compensate.

If you are not the normal consumer of your Pepto Dismal purchases, please fill out the attached "Not A Regular Consumer" form to identify said user and your HPPR will be returned to the normal-risk group.

Sincerely,
Your Health Insurance Extortionist [msn.com]

Re:i keep waiting for the day (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250133)

i keep waiting for the day that a massive wave of realization crosses the minds of the average slashdot reader/ editor

What?! Don't you know how important we are? Our opinions are teh educated ones! We know how online tracking works and the general public doesn't. Therefore, online tracking is important. Very important. We have concerns and everyone should listen to us and -- this is crucial -- value our understanding. Our understanding must be acknowledged and accorded status. Because we are important.

--

I have to go now. I'm cycling my house lights on and off at irregular intervals according to a schedule generated from randomized cosmic noise using a perl script. If there's no pattern, they'll never know when I'm asleep. If enough people do the same, we can end Daylight Savings Time once and for all.

important moral question (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249549)

Dear Slashdot,

I'm in a quandry. I see policemen beating lawyers on the streets in Pakistan.

How should I be feeling?

Thanks,

A concerned citizen.

Re:important moral question (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250121)

Worried. It might make it hard to claim Pakistan is in the Axis of Evil when people start to sympathize with the executive there.

Re:important moral question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250493)

What it has to do with Britney Spears and/or Paris Hilton?

My worst offender? ACLU! (5, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249655)

When donating them money in 2006, I specified a "special" address, which contained "from ACLU" in the "Line 1" of the address. The actual address went to "Line 2" of their form. I do this with all establishments I'm dealing with — just in case.

A month or so later invitations to subscribe to "The Nation" (a disgusting uber-Left rag) started showing up bearing the "from ACLU" address...

Now, I expected the ACLU to be bi-partisan — and concerned with my privacy. Asking me for money the next year is fair game. But sharing my info with other — completely unrelated — organizations? Very disappointing...

Somehow, nothing but parcels from Amazon has shown up bearing the "from Amazon" address.

Re:My worst offender? ACLU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249791)

But sharing my info with other

I don't know if this will make you feel worse, but they didn't share it. They sold it. It's part of their funding stream.

And I guess you weren't paying attention back in 1988, when Bush Sr. made "Card Carrying Member of the ACLU," synonymous with "disgusting uber-left rights group," but the battle lines got drawn on that bit a long time ago. Since the GOP keeps giving their Libertarian wing the finger, the field is pretty much left to the people you find disgusting, except for gun rights, which gets covered by the NRA.

Re:My worst offender? ACLU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21249995)

Wow, that really is the WORST offender.

Except for all the unsolicited email I get from CAPITALISTS trying to sell me prescription drugs. Ever heard of it? I think it's called "spam", and I think it's considered a problem by some people.

Re:My worst offender? ACLU! (0)

theskipper (461997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250087)

Just to clarify, "worst offender" is probably a little too harsh.

They sold your information just like the American Cancer Society, Krogers, the NRA, Focus on the Family, Time Magazine and just about every other business/charity does. This is the basis for targeted mailing lists coupled with massive databases like those maintained by Acxiom.

"Specialty selects" are commonly available and the more targeted the information, the higher the cost for renting the list. For example, peruse this company sometime: http://www.infousa.com./ [www.infousa.com] Then, to get a feel for the mindset of direct marketers, read up at http://www.directmag.com./ [www.directmag.com]

Point is, this is really standard stuff in mailing and marketing. It's been going on forever and be going away any time soon.

Re:My worst offender? ACLU! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250481)

Awesome tactic. I wonder if you could encode this information into the normal address line? Or perhaps a middle initial? I'm just thinking that using the first address line for that might cause delivery problems...

Re:My worst offender? ACLU! (3, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250607)

Now, I expected the ACLU to be bi-partisan...

Hah!

...and concerned with my privacy.

Hah! Hah!

Not a surprise, but (5, Insightful)

pcause (209643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249729)

It isn't a surprise, becuase if people understood how much is tracked and what companies like Google know about them, there would be outrage. No one should have the level of detailed information about a consumer that Google gathers. They know who you email and IM with and about what, what sites you visit, what you buy, what your interests are, where you are and with whom, your stick market interests and investments and more. Even the Soviet era KGB would envy Google data collection and audacity.

Some (GOogle) will say that the privacy policy explains all this. Humbug! First you have to follow a link to find the policy. Second the lawyers and marketeers have obfuscated what is really being done. Further, they can change the policy without notice. When they change you have to know they have changed and then go and read the new policy. How one is supposed to know when no notice is provided is a mystery.

All in all, Google is doing a lot of evil if you believe in personal privacy. They are an invasive collector of personal data and they hide the extent and nature of what they are doing. Google makes Microsoft bashful in their business practices.

Re:Not a surprise, but (3, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250299)

PROTIP: If you don't want someone to have personal information about you, don't give it to them.

Evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250375)

Do you have any evidence they have abused your information? Do you have any evidence that they have purposely obfuscated their privacy policy? How about evidence that they've changed their policies in order to abuse your data?

Do you have any evidence at all that they are doing "evil" things with your data? No. You have FUD.

Just because they have more data doesn't mean they have worse privacy practices than any other company.

Re:Not a surprise, but (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250507)

Some (Google) will say that the privacy policy explains all this. Humbug! First you have to follow a link to find the policy.
From my gmail inbox, there's a link to privacy policy at the bottom. For google, click About Google and there's a link to the privacy policy at the bottom. But last time I checked, using Google was optional. Or does its convenience outweigh your privacy concerns?

Re:Not a surprise, but (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250555)

Using NoScript (may it be forever blessed), I've come to assume that any page I visit will have google-analytics.com scripts running on it. Many have doubleclick.net ones as well. In fact, those two are the only ones on this slashdot comment page aside from the slashdot ones. Google-analytics scripts are probably running on at least 95% of all web pages, in my experience. Well, for some people they are :)

Clueless US citizens? No shit! (1, Flamebait)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249787)

Ignorance is bliss. Ever since GWB set his foot in the oval office, Americans have proven that we don't really listen to what's going on with our privacy. I don't know if we are to blame the media. Maybe it's in our nature to ignore it. Or maybe a combination. Either way, we have shown that we don't care enough to make a difference, which is why sites can do this - because, supposedly, no one bothers.

These people vote! (1)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249799)

They don't realize that politician's promises aren't contracts, either. Enlightened fascism now!

why are we surprised? (-1, Troll)

blackfrancis75 (911664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249895)

1 in 5 US citizens think the Sun revolves around the Earth. These are the people who accept GWB as their leader. What makes you think a high percentage would be informed IT consumers?

AT&T + NSA 0wns all your bases! (3, Informative)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21249985)

Privacy Policy or no privacy policy... if you have been surfing US sites in the past few years, the dept of Home Land Security tracked all (and I mean ALL) your information.

References:
1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-aQ_o_yi-s [youtube.com]
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWW09xzJfS0 [youtube.com]
3) http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [usatoday.com]
4) http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2006/06/the_newbies_gui.html?entry_id=1510938 [wired.com]

Title was too long... (0, Flamebait)

chevybowtie (96127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250009)

It had 3 unnecessary words. It should have read only: 'US Consumers-Clueless'

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250693)

The Onion: 95% of Americans missing the point http://www.theonion.com/content/node/29245 [theonion.com]

Anyone here surprised? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250181)

And I can also tell you why. In a nutshell: It's not on primetime TV. How I can tell? Well, everyone knows what color the panties of Britney have or how long Paris was in jail, everyone know who's the current American Idol, and all of that because, yes, you guessed it: It made primetime.

Now, this would be information and it's hard to make it infotainment, it's also nothing where you could get kids to call in to a 0900 number, so it has an icecube in hell chance to ever get there.

Also, who should push it there? What company could have a remote interest to inform the public about that? It's in their interest to keep people clueless!

and this helps how? (1)

npridgeon (784063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250249)

Ok, so they do a study and find that consumers are generally oblivious. Fine. The fact that they've been slashdotted means they're letting us know we're oblivious, but what are they doing to educate us? Do they point us toward some ways to help us shop safer? Doesn't look like it.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.. (1)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250467)

..after all the time I see people spend tracking their orders online.

Correction (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250629)

Consumers Clueless
It is not just US consumers that are clueless and online tracking is not the only issue in which they are clueless...
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