Law and Ethics
Internet Promotion and the Economy
The Society Reaction to Internet Promotions
Promotions on the Internet are bad
Law and Ethics
The FTC plays a key role of ensuring that internet privacy issues are observed. In its 1999 report to the Congress, the FTC recognizes that many websites do not have mechanisms to ensure that there is a fair informational practice. Businesses are supposed to furnish their consumers with a notice informing them of how they collect personal data and use it. In addition, they have to give consumers an opportunity to agree or disagree whether they should be involved and to what extent. To enhance its regulatory role the FTC created a special site to give information to consumers on how they can maintain their privacy on the internet. Moreover, it receives information from aggrieved consumers on privacy issues, investigates the accused businesses, and takes legal action (Federal Trade Commision para.1-10).
Internet Promotions and the Economy
Although the internet appears to be public, not all sections are public. It consists of private networks and computers owned by businesses, individuals and government agencies. The internet provides a low cost way of obtaining or sharing a large amount of information on a wide area and this appeal greatly to advertisers. Advertisers need to be aware of how the internet operates and how the costs of maintaining the internet are distributed. Companies pay for their networks, users pay for their access to the internet, or their organizations pay. Advertisers have to consider that the flow of information on the internet is not free. The privacy of the networks and computers demands implies that the unsolicited delivery of advertisements to users’ computer browsers is not only an invasion of their privacy but also a trespass of private property. In addition, such advertisements use users time and internet resource that they pay for and consume computer processing power that would otherwise be used in doing a tasks intended by the user. Internet promotions using cookie technology to evaluate user characteristics can be categorized as spam and cost consumers time and money they did not agree to cover.
The Society Reaction to Internet Promotions
On a social context, such as on Facebook, promotions of pages, interests and businesses uses sessions cookies and tracking cookies that deliver content that is related to the content one is reading or viewing. The idea behind such promotions is to give feedback to the promoter on the number of interaction for the advertisement and allow them to publish more related advertisements to websites that the user frequents. To advertisers, it is an economical way of informing consumers of their products but for consumers, this targeted advertising besides being unnecessary, does not provide the required diversity that users hope for. Cookies tell other websites that you might be attracted to them and influence you through suggestions to visit those websites. Without the option to exercise free will, such kinds of promotions attack the social freedom that the internet should be (Online Little Rock para.2-6).
As internet users become aware of the mechanisms that advertisers and websites use to promote their material, there is likely to be a backlash effect. However, the probability of consumers refraining from online shopping and social networks to protect their privacy and prevent their valuable internet service from being misused by such sites remains a hypothesis (Siciliano para.5-7). The fact that privacy concerns lead to a huge cut in targeted advertisements confirms that such advertisements are bad in the first place. The chart below shows the amount of privacy concerns curtailing advertisements confirming the point above.
Figure 1: Do privacy concerns limit or curtail Online Behavioral Advertising spending? (Ponemon Institute p.5)
Internet users have to be given the choice of accepting internet promotion and services that use their information to deliver related content. In addition, websites that avail their user information to other websites and web services have to let their users opt-in the service. Otherwise, user might realize when it is too late that their intention in using the service exposed them to unintended services that they end up consuming without personality benefiting from it. This fact is supported by a recent poll on the popular social networking site, Facebook, indicating that 90 per cent of its users prefer that all services in the site should be opt-in (Diana para.6).
In summing up, promoters and advertisers need to recognize that users pay for their internet usage. Thus, they expect to be charged for that either in monetary of non-monetary terms. When a user incurs costs that they had not agreed to, then both lawfully and socially this amounts to theft of personal time, information and internet paid-for time.
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