Thursday, February 03, 2011

Do not track considered harmful

Despite ones desire to remain anonymous these days it is important to keep sight of the fact that participation in any civilised society must come at the price of some loss of anonymity. In years gone by, a postal address was new and scary to some yet America's mail system was more influential than any other single factor in the stabilization of the frontier into a country. 
Having a telephone number requires a loss of anonymity that we accept even though some of us don't publish our number in a directory. We might still be reached by officials and the agents of the phone company as well as by robot random diallers. 
The Internet makes the hackles of the privacy advocate rise even more quickly, especially when the subject of tracking cookies and targeted advertising is broached.
I believe we are walking a fine line today between a vibrant, open an competittive internet and one that is far darker, closed and oppressive. Strangely, the thing that may stand in the way of vibrancy and unbounded freedom is privacy. 
Today, the internet is interesting because it makes a whole heap of money for loosely regulated businesses. Businesses that enable new technologies and new freedom of access to almost unlimited and ubiquitous information and all you have to do in return is put up with a few adverts. I don't suggest that unbridled advert targetting is a good thing but i certainly do think that if privacy stopped the advertisers fron spending then companies like Google would cease to enable free and instant access to everything possible. Without a little loss of privacy, maybe, the only people willing to share information would be our governments and we all know how much we can trust those guys to give us free and instant access to all the information we want. 
Opt in to freedom. Allow the advertsers to track your netwok usage a bit. Sure, become net savvy, limit what they know if you think its important but don't demand strict regulation or tight control from your government. Privacy is important but freedom is more-so. 

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