This week we saw John McCain and John Kerry introduce a new U.S. privacy bill aimed at protecting consumer data, particularly when it comes to the Internet. So does this spell the end of online advertising?
There is no question that consumers are at risk with so much of their data floating around the web. Security breaches mean big problems and open individuals up to identity theft and being targeted by scams. This new privacy bill aims to scale back the sensitive information collected by corporations to only what is necessary for a particular transaction and demands new disclosures on why certain data is being collected, who it may be shared with and how it will be safeguarded. As well of course as giving the option to opt out.
Many advertisers and retail associations are not happy to say the least. They point out that this proposed bill gives the FTC too much power in enabling them to draft the bill and that it will equally harm brick and mortar businesses as well. Businesses worry that the ‘shopping experience’ could be seriously tarnished by the need to give out excessive privacy notices at the point of sale.
The Direct Marketing Association has also weighed in, highlighting the fact that this is probably not the best time for harsher new regulations and restrictions just as the economy is trying to find a strong foothold again. If it became too restrictive and seriously affected online advertising which has perhaps become the saviour of the economy between job creation, retail sales and higher profit margins, we could find ourselves plunged back into an extended depression, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Perhaps the one plus is a lack of a ‘Do Not Track’ mandate for online advertising in this bill which could put the breaks on many advances in Web 3.0 and means millions of dollars wasted, and a stall in the new trend towards a more interactive experience for the customer.
The truth about privacy is that we are all at risk everyday. All it takes is a desperate bank teller to clear out your bank account or sell your information. Plus perhaps the biggest danger comes from the credit reporting agencies who freely sell our private information everyday. May be this should be the first point of attack for those worried about consumer safety.
So is it the end of online advertising yet? Not by a long shot. Could a tough bill make it harder for U.S. companies? Absolutely. However with globalization everything we don’t like will just go on from offshore locations and feed foreign economies while the U.S. sinks even further.