Marketers, advocates take sides on online privacy issues

The New York Times' report on the December 7 Federal Trade Commission roundtable on privacy and technology emphasized an abyss of difference of opinion between marketers and privacy advocates on the issue.

The article quotes Joseph Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lorrie Faith Cranor, an associate professor of computer science at the Carnegie Mellon University, as saying that many consumers don't understand the difference between content and advertising on the Web.

“Generally speaking, they know very, very little about what goes on online, under the screen, under the hood,” Turow said, according to the Times. “The kind of things they don't know would surprise many people around here.”

The article also quotes Linda Wooley, the Direct Marketing Association's EVP for government affairs, who says that if consumers are “of a mind to do private browsing, and doing everything anonymously, the tools are out there.”

With this issue in mind, Yahoo this week released a beta version of Ad Interest Manager, a tool that helps consumers control their online personal data. Last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau launched an effort to educate consumers about online privacy.

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