I am supportive of these ideas, but it is too bad it had to come to this point.
The tracking of Internet user activities—and the bundling and sale thereof—is a booming business. Supporters have been claiming that consumers benefit in that they are "treated" to advertising that is more relevant.
If consumers are really better off with Internet tracking, why not explain why and ask them to opt in? Because few will do so, that is why.
Let’s be clear, Internet tracking is good for advertisers. For consumers it's a bit creepy.
Put this in the physical world. Say you are shopping at your favorite mall and you notice a shady looking character following you around, notebook at the ready. As you look at items, he scribbles things down in this notebook. As you travel from store to store, he is right on your tail.
Sooner or later, you would surely be calling security—or just hightailing it out of there to do your shopping somewhere else.
If this kind of behavior is not OK in the physical world, what makes it OK on the Internet? The answer is that it is not OK.
If we ever found a use for this info that truly benefited consumers, we would offer them the opportunity to opt-in. (As opposed to hard to find opt outs.)
And in case you are wondering, we developed these policies long before Washington started poking around the issue.
*Ironically from the same government that not long ago was into warrant-less wiretapping… :)