Several Internet and broadband companies have acknowledged using targeted-advertising technology without explicitly informing customers, according to letters released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
And Google Inc., the leading online advertiser, stated that it had begun using Internet tracking technology that enabled it to more precisely follow Web-surfing behavior across affiliated sites.
The revelations came in response to a bipartisan inquiry of how more than 30 Internet companies might have gathered data to target customers. Some privacy advocates and lawmakers said the disclosures helped build a case for an overarching online-privacy law.
“Increasingly, there are no limits technologically as to what a company can do in terms of collecting information . . . and then selling it as a commodity to other providers,” said committee member Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who created the Privacy Caucus 12 years ago. “Our responsibility is to make sure that we create a law that, regardless of the technology, includes a set of legal guarantees that consumers have with respect to their information.”
Much of the mainstream media views these issues in too narrow a way. Internet multinationals such as Google and Yahoo are colluding with the Chinese regime in its filtering process. What those companies learn in China and other repressive regimes could be utilised in “democracies.”
Time to join the dots.