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Re: Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology Paper outlining harms of tracking

From: Alan Chapell <achapell@chapellassociates.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:07:37 -0400
To: Walter van Holst <walter.van.holst@xs4all.nl>, <public-tracking@w3.org>
Message-ID: <CC9C90D4.232CF%achapell@chapellassociates.com>
Thanks Walter. You may have missed my other comments. For your
convenience, I've pasted them below and would love your thoughtsŠ

On 10/11/12 1:30 PM, "Walter van Holst" <walter.van.holst@xs4all.nl> wrote:

>On 10/11/12 7:19 PM, Jeffrey Chester wrote:
>>Alan.  Could you please clarify.  Are you saying that you and/or your
>>clients believe that the loss of privacy from contemporary digital
>>marketing practices is not a "harm."  This will help in the discussion.
>To add to this conversation, I think this article in the Journal of
>Business Ethics may shed some light on the issue for those unaware of
>the dangers of tracking and/or unaware of the current theories in
>business ethics:
>Electronic Monitoring and Privacy Issues in Business-Marketing: The
>Ethics of the DoubleClick Experience
>The paper examines the ethics of electronic monitoring for advertising
>purposes and the implications for Internet user privacy using as a
>backdrop DoubleClick Inc's recent controversy over matching previously
>anonymous user profiles with personally identifiable information. It
>explores various ethical theories that are applicable to understand
>privacy issues in electronic monitoring.

>It is argued that, despite the
>fact that electronic monitoring always constitutes an invasion of
>privacy, it can still be ethically justified on both Utilitarian and
>Kantian grounds. From a Utilitarian perspective the emphasis must be on
>minimizing potential harms.

Interesting point. And very relevant to this discussion. As I'm providing
input into Permitted Uses, I've argued for some flexibility so as to avoid
putting third parties in a position where they are conflicting either with
DNT or another competing standard. This argument has received some
pushback. Some in the group believe that DNT should just trump all
competing or conflicting standards - which I believe is impractical.

Therefore, I've asked Jeff, Jonathan and others for some real-life
examples on the harms they are trying to minimize so that I can help
tailor Permitted Uses to address those harms. Thus far, I've received
information on a) harms that are out of the scope of DNT, b) high level
examples that are incredibly vague to as to make it almost impossible to
find practical approaches to address the purported harms in our work here.
If this is all they can offer, well then it might be time to remove those
objections to my request for flexibility in Permitted Users so the group
can move forward productively.

>From a Kantian perspective the emphasis must
>be on giving users complete information so that they can make informed
>decisions as to whether they are willing to be monitored.

This speaks less to the harm issue, and more towards the benefits of
requiring the browsers to "give() users complete information" and very
clearly describe what DNT means. Do you agree?

On 10/11/12 2:56 PM, "Walter van Holst" <walter.van.holst@xs4all.nl> wrote:

>On 10/11/12 8:44 PM, Alan Chapell wrote:
>> Hi Walter - Thanks for forwarding. This paper was published in 2002,
>> correct?
>That is correct.
>To put things in perspective, I don't think anyone in the working group
>will argue that there is less data collection going on than was the case
>in 2002. Neither do I expect anyone on the list to argue that the
>typical user has more transparancy and control over this data collection
>either. So if anything, the paper's conclusions are probably more valid
>than they were in 2002.
>Moreover, I do not necessarily agree with the premises of this paper,
>since from my perspective privacy is a fundamental human right, just
>like freedom of expression and bodily integrity, that is non-negotiable.
>It is industry that should provide that there is a pressing social need
>that outweighs this fundamental right.
>It is more that I want to have a genuine conversation about the issues
>and for that I hope it is helpful to frame it in a business perspective
>every once in a while. I think it is rather telling that even a purely
>utilitarian approach tells us that in the end it is just not in the
>interest of business to build business models on essentially stalking
>people. Because that is not an ethical or sustainable practice.
> Walter
Received on Thursday, 11 October 2012 19:08:19 UTC

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