W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-tracking@w3.org > October 2012

Re: Proposed Text for Local Law and Public Purpose

From: Walter van Holst <walter.van.holst@xs4all.nl>
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2012 16:03:59 +0200
Message-ID: <5087F54F.30306@xs4all.nl>
To: public-tracking@w3.org
On 10/24/12 3:28 PM, Chris Mejia wrote:

> advertising, which was not so successful until OBA.  The reason that OBA
> has elevated online display advertising is because it matches the user's
> interest with ads that may be interesting/relevant to the user.  There is
> no nefarious purpose here, unless of course you think the age-old practice
> of marketing is somehow nefarious?  Maybe that's your point?  That
> marketing itself is bad for the world?

I have a background in business (and even some marketing diplomas
collecting dust) and certainly would not say so. What I think is wrong
is the collection of personal data across various contexts, without the
persons involved even being aware of it or letting them provide
meaningful consent for it. If you believe that marketing can be a force
for good (which I happen to do), you probably can also imagine it
becoming a force for evil.

> Second, it would be helpful if those chiming in on this forum understood
> how the business on online marketing actually works (vs the
> conspiracy-theory-laden and meritless/fact-less assertions that are often
> propagated here).

Would you care to point out any of those meritless/fact-less assertions?
Perhaps by disclosing actual industry practices?


> such, in the vast majority of cases, is deleted or hashed.  Such data may
> be kept for other good reasons (i.e. financial reporting and auditing
> requirements), but to be clear, THOSE THINGS ARE NOT OBA.

Ny apologies for using a narrow term for something wider: the massive
collection of online behaviour without transparancy or consent.


> Marketers have been segmenting potential consumers into "marketing
> segments" using observed behavior as a tool for doing so, since the
> beginning of consumerism (AD).  If you don't believe me, take trip through
> the Advertising Museum in Tokyo (quite a nice museum and research archive
> I'll add). What we marketers are doing today is no different-- other than
> the scale and speed, which might make it seem scary, but only if you don't
> know what your are looking at.  The vast majority of marketers are not
> interested in keeping detailed "digital dossiers" of absolutely everything
> you do online.  In fact, to me, you are just a number, and quite
> anonymously so.  You are grouped together with millions of other numbers
> in "marketing segments".  And marketing segments (thousands to millions of
> anonymous numbers grouped together) are what marketers buy from publishers
> and ad networks, for the sole purpose of showing their product's ads to
> folks who might be interested in buying.  In fact, this practice which
> pre-dates online, is what fuels modern economy.    So perhaps you have
> issue with the idea of marketing-- to me it sounds that way, given your
> strident rhetoric?  If so, please avail yourself.  But if your issue is
> indeed with the common marketing practice of segmentation, then first take
> some time to understand it (how it actually works), so your comments here
> are informed and productive, rather than misleading.

I am sorry Chris, but I am not allowing you to twist my argument into a
rant against marketing or market economies in general. I am quite aware
of what market segmentation entails. OBA goes a lot further, it is about
the holy grail of marketing, namely one-on-one marketing. Which in
itself is not a bad thing, since it may allow for lower transaction cost
and thus adds lubricants (not fuel) to the economy. Where it veers into
'nefarious' territory is when data from different contexts is being
mixed and matched, without the subject of that data having any say in
that. Basically: you want to get to know me, regardless of wheter I want
it or not.

And frankly, I do not believe your statement that it is only about
grouping together in segments, because industry has so far refused to
disclose its practices. It is 'trust me because we say so'. If any
complaints about conspiracy theories may be warranted, then it is
because those only get fueled by the flat out refusal of any transparancy.

Regards,

 Walter
Received on Wednesday, 24 October 2012 14:04:30 UTC

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