I’m delighted to announce the results of our first national telephonic survey of US internet-using adults on consumer privacy! The Times has coverage and the full report (Americans Reject Tailored Advertising and Three Activities that Enable It is available here. Here’s a summary:
This nationally representative telephone (wireline and cell phone) survey explores Americans’ opinions about behavioral targeting by marketers, a controversial issue currently before government policymakers. Behavioral targeting involves two types of activities: following users’ actions and then tailoring advertisements for the users based on those actions. While privacy advocates have lambasted behavioral targeting for tracking and labeling people in ways they do not know or understand, marketers have defended the practice by insisting it gives Americans what they want: advertisements and other forms of content that are as relevant to their lives as possible.
Contrary to what many marketers claim, most adult Americans (66%) do not want marketers to tailor advertisements to their interests. Moreover, when Americans are informed of three common ways that marketers gather data about people in order to tailor ads, even higher percentages– between 73% and 86%–say they would not want such advertising. Even among young adults, whom advertisers often portray as caring little about information privacy, more than half (55%) of 18-24 year-olds do not want tailored advertising. And contrary to consistent assertions of marketers, young adults have as strong an aversion to being followed across websites and offline (for example, in stores) as do older adults.
This survey finds that Americans want openness with marketers. If marketers want to continue to use various forms of behavioral targeting in their interactions with Americans, they must work with policymakers to open up the process so that individuals can learn exactly how their information is being collected and used, and then exercise control over their data. We offer specific proposals in this direction. An overarching one is for marketers to implement a regime of information respect toward the public rather than to treat them as objects from which they can take information in order to optimally persuade them.
Thomas Frank’s weekly column in the Journal is one of the few tolerable pieces in the paper’s opinion section. This week, Frank writes, sensibly, in my opinion, that the left needs to recapture “freedom.”
There are few things in politics more annoying than the right’s utter conviction that it owns the patent on the word “freedom” that when its leaders stand up for the rights of banks to be unregulated or capital gains to be untaxed, that it is actually and obviously standing up for human liberty, the noblest cause of them all.
Even such pits of statism as Britain and Canada remain free societies, generally speaking, despite having gone skipping blithely down the universal-health-care road to serfdom decades ago.
For the sort of people who gathered on the Mall last weekend, however, I doubt that such observations would matter in the least. Their conception of freedom soars on by a force all its own, carried aloft on the wings of pure abstract reasoning: Government intervention equals tyranny. Liberalism is forever a form of despotism-in-waiting.
The reality of misgovernment, meanwhile, is not something you can grasp simply by donning a tricorn hat and musing on the majesty of Lady Liberty. It requires, among other things, close attention to the following irony: That many of the most destructive and even corrupt policies of the past few decades were engineered by exactly the sort of people who claim to be motivated by freedom and liberty. Our friends on the Mall no doubt imagine themselves as guiltless accusers, but if they really want to understand how our country got to this sorry state, they need to take a long hard look in the mirror.
“Check out that fucking teabagger,” writes in tipster Stefan, referencing “Look At This Fucking Hipster,” the blog chronicling hipsters looking ridiculous. Unfortunately, while hipsters have to be sought out within the pseudo-bohemian enclaves of their respective parishes, people who can’t have any kind of normal, rational discussion about politics–or even a rational, agenda-based protest–are easily found at protests like the one going on today in Washington D.C.