BriefsIs on-line buying behavior sensitive information?
Salon.com (04/26/02); Wenham, Chris report on the
The new Online Personal Privacy Act introduced by Sen. Hollings (D-S.C.), which would legalize what some consider "invasive" practices of online marketers, such online consumer tracking.
On-line tracking recently reached new levels of intrusiveness with the Brilliant Digital spyware distributed over the KaZaA file-trading network. Sen. Hollings' legislation would classify online buying patterns and other "nonsensitive" information as data that corporations can freely share with one another. That new classification scheme would be a legal blessing of the type of activity that the Brilliant Digital software was engaged in--namely, operating a distributed computing network specifically designed to harness consumers' computing power to drive advanced marketing technology. KaZaA users make up the largest file-trading network since Napster, and many accepted the Brilliant software without any knowledge of what it did. Spyware such as Brilliant's promises to resolve the problems companies have in tracking statistical groups instead of individual consumers.
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