It is becoming clear that the so-called “Do Not Track” concept actually means two different things to two different groups. To companies, it is as narrow as it would apply to targeted ads only. To consumers, it is to be totally free from being “followed” in whatever they do online. These two disjointed beliefs about the “Do Not Track” extent are still in the battleground of ideas. Internet companies are settled into thinking that consumers do not really understand what they would lose if they would not be tracked at all.
Google and online advertisers have announced their support to such technology, but made it clear that this was only for targeted advertisements. Because of this, people are not too happy, especially those who expected something wider in scope. It can be surmised that Google will still collect consumer data and sell this for specific purposes.
This issue about tracking and its implications on privacy has been going on for a long time. Actually, one privacy analyst, who is also an attorney, said that it is really about “do not target”. To use the term “do not track” would mean putting a total ban on consumer data gathering and use. However, companies assert that this would harm the industry that depends so much on advertising. It would also deprive consumers of their opportunity to have better online experiences through data tracking.
When a survey was conducted among internet users regarding their idea of “Do Not Track”, an interesting thing was revealed. Eighty percent of the respondents believed that with the technology, there will be no more data collection and that tracking software in their computers will be removed. This is because the term is often misinterpreted when in fact, it is supposed to be only intended for targeted ads.
Some other spokespersons from different organizations explained the consequences of stopping data collection. There were those who said that consumers are not in the position to tell its effects. One simple consequence would be that they could no longer get special services like personalized content. For example, consumers can not have the privilege of enjoying customized home pages without their data getting through.
There will be more battles as to what “Do Not Track” should really be. As long as the two ideas do not converge into one workable whole, it is not possible to settle on something concrete. Will there come a point where companies and consumers can find a middle ground? It would depend on two factors. First is on how companies will be open and honest about how they would use the data, if ever. Second, on if consumers will be open minded to the implications of technology on their privacy.