This video is about the issue of Internet privacy and the rules that govern your privacy while still allowing business on the Web to flourish. The topic was debated at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing July 9.
At issue is the personal information that businesses collect when you go online in order to tailor specific advertisements to you with the hope that you will purchase their products or services. One way that companies track your habits online is through the use of what is called a cookie. Think of it as a digital breadcrumb that search companies, Web sites and marketers place on your computer’s hard drive to keep track of where you go.
Some people believe either the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission should enact mandatory rules on how information is gathered and used.
Two public policy advocates who testified at the hearing discuss the issue.
“What matters online is they’re trying to sell something to you. It’s not that they have to know who you are necessarily, but what someone like you likes to buy. And that’s the idea.” - Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute
“The Internet is an innovative medium. We don’t want to crush it, but we have historically a set of what we call fair information practices that you collect information for one purpose. You don’t use it for another purpose. You hold it for only as long as that purpose exists.” - Leslie Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology
WARM UP QUESTIONS:
What kind of information do you think Web companies have access to when you’re online? Do you ever give personal information about yourself on Web sites, things like your age, email address or gender?
What do you think, should the government regulate people tracking how you use the Internet? Why or why not?
Which upsets you more, SPAM advertising that may have nothing to do with you or targeted advertising that attempts to decide which products or services you might like to purchase? Why do you think this way?
Look at the history of advertising, how have new technologies changed the way we use and receive advertising? What do you think about these changes?
Transcript of the video report
Senate hearing: Privacy Implications of Online Advertising
NewsHour segment: Experts Debate Privacy and Anti-Terrorism Measures
NewsHour segment: New Cell Phone Technology Can Track Users