/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Power and Digital Surveillance

In HBR Big Idea: private data and targeted advertisement.

How to Exercise the Power you Didn't ask for    By Jonathan Zittrain

I used to be largely indifferent to claims about the use of private data for targeted advertising, even as I worried about privacy more generally. How much of an intrusion was it, really, for a merchant to hit me with a banner ad for dog food instead of cat food, since it had reason to believe I owned a dog? And any users who were sensitive about their personal information could just click on a menu and simply opt out of that kind of tracking.

But times have changed.

The digital surveillance economy has ballooned in size and sophistication, while keeping most of its day-to-day tracking apparatus out of view. Public reaction has ranged from muted to deeply concerned, with a good portion of those in the concerned camp feeling so overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of their privacy loss that they’re more or less reconciled to it. It’s long past time not only to worry but to act.

Advertising dog food to dog owners remains innocuous, but pushing payday loans to people identified as being emotionally and financially vulnerable is not. Neither is targeted advertising that is used to exclude people. Julia Angwin, Ariana Tobin, and Madeleine Varner found that on Facebook targeting could be used to show housing ads only to white consumers. Narrow targeting can also render long-standing mechanisms for detecting market failure and abuse ineffective: State attorneys general or consumer advocates can’t respond to a deceitful ad campaign, for instance, when they don’t see it themselves. Uber took this predicament to cartoon villain extremes when, to avoid sting operations by local regulators, it used data collected from the Uber app to figure out who the officials were and then sent fake information about cars in service to their phones.  ... "

No comments: