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Call Congress! My Internet Privacy Has Been Invaded!

Steven Titch
March 6, 2009, 10:03am

There I was, browsing the Web for information about video editing PC software, when, shortly after reading a product review for the basic version of Corel’s VideoStudio, I received an e-mail from Corel offering me a $30 discount on the higher end VideoStudio Pro.

I feel so violated!!! Wouldn’t you? The fact that the discount would allow me to purchase a much more robust software package for a little more than cost of the scaled-down version is no compensation for the sheer outrage I feel that a Web site dedicated to video software would have the nerve, the nerve, I say, to notify a manufacturer that I might be actually be interested in purchasing its product!

Neither do I see this blatant intrusion on the sanctity of my e-mail inbox as an acceptable price for the wealth of information the video review site provides me, the average consumer, absolutely free. Dammit, information wants to be free! Such targeted Web advertising, where evil corporations track the Web sites our PC's IP address visits in order to entice us to purchase products we want at discounts so attractive we can’t resist, is corrupting the fundamental nature of the Internet and must be stamped out!

Thank heaven we have visionaries like New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky and the stalwart members of the Connecticut state assembly’s General Law Committee, who have introduced bills to put a halt to this exploitive process of tracking browser clicks for the purpose of offering people more information on products that interest them and better prices to boot!

One can only hope this vital regulatory idea has caught fire. Last year a bipartisan group of Congressmen, led by John Dingell (D., Mich.), Joe Barton (R., Texas and Ed Markey (D., Mass), began intimidating ISPs about technology that could be used for targeted advertising. Now it seems that Rep. Rick Boucher (D., Va.) has joined the cause, questioning whether the Federal Trade Commission’s current online privacy guidelines are enough.

Yes, it is a time of recession, all the more reason we should be on guard against entrepreneurs who seek to use the glitter of Internet and World Wide Web, and buzzwords like “broadband investment” and “job creation,” to entice us into blindly serving up our deeply private and personal tastes in everything from PC software, to music, to our favorite brand of ice cream (our children’s ice cream!). We should be grateful our elected officials (and our courts, too!) are prepared to bring mechanisms of big government to bear on popular ideas that if left unchecked, would allow the dangerous mix of technology and market forces to run amok.

My only request is they wait until I get my $30 discount.



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