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

From: Fred Andrews <fredandw@live.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2012 00:08:10 +0000
Message-ID: <BLU002-W1050618EACF1A3CFC098099AA8C0@phx.gbl>
To: Alan Chapell <achapell@chapellassociates.com>, Jeffrey Chester <jeff@democraticmedia.org>
CC: "public-tracking@w3.org" <public-tracking@w3.org>, Jonathan Mayer <jmayer@stanford.edu>
Hi Alan,

Showing harm to the user is very easy.  If you really need help then just look to all the claimed critical permitted uses - while the user private data is taken for these uses the value to a user of sharing this data is zero and thus causes a huge financial loss to users.  Since this data could be of value to the user there is a risk from covert collection.  Further, while this data is collected without user consent there is little incentive in the market for businesses to emerge that better respect user privacy and there is a potential loss from this lost business opportunity to build a closer relationship with the user.

I suggest that the only way to avoid these harms is to allow the user to choose the collection and use of their data and I look forward to your solution?

DNT is not anti-advertising, it just needs some changes, and there is a vision of an even closer relationship between users and advertisers that may add more value for many in the chain.

I really don't understand the negativity from the advertising industry.  Perhaps those that understand the path forward are just keeping quiet to gain a market advantage.  I believe that many in the advertising community are being very very poorly advised in this matter.  A world in which user private data is collected and used without their consent benefits only a narrow segment of the advertising industry and I wonder what happened to the voice from other segments of the market?

For example all the websites with focused content and/or demographics that can better sell their value if ads are not targeted to tracked user profiles.  If users are tracked and their profile known then ads can follow them anywhere irrespective of website content quality which destroys value for websites with focused content.  Who is representing all these websites?   Who is representing the interests of the huge media organizations with quality content and focused demographics?  Why are the letting narrow segments of the advertising industry destroy their advertising platform?  Perhaps users can build better support for their privacy from other segments of the advertising industry and if anyone happens to be able to reach out to them then please consider informing them of want is going down here and how it could affect their interests.


Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:33:06 -0400
From: achapell@chapellassociates.com
To: jeff@democraticmedia.org
CC: public-tracking@w3.org; jmayer@stanford.edu
Subject: Re: Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology Paper outlining  harms of tracking

Hi Jeff - 
It is significantly more productive to tie it back to what harms are purportedly going to be addressed by the DNT standard.
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.
As a result, I've asked you, 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 flexibility in Permitted Users so the group can move forward productively.
So I'm not sure why you're asking me this question. I struggle to find the harm that this group is attempting to address. You and your colleagues are the ones telling the world the the proverbial sky is falling. And if the professionals who have made these issues their life's work are unable to provide specific, real world examples, please point me to those who are…
From:  Jeffrey Chester <jeff@democraticmedia.org>
Date:  Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:19 PM
To:  Alan Chapell <achapell@chapellassociates.com>
Cc:  <public-tracking@w3.org>, Jonathan Mayer <jmayer@stanford.edu>
Subject:  Re: Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology Paper outlining harms of tracking

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.

Jeffrey ChesterCenter for Digital Democracy1621 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 550Washington, DC 20009www.democraticmedia.orgwww.digitalads.org202-986-2220
On Oct 10, 2012, at 4:55 PM, Alan Chapell wrote:Hi Jonathan - 
In addition to my questions below, I'm curious whether your research has documented specific examples of these harms occurring in the real world? 
Thanks again,
From:  Alan Chapell <achapell@chapellassociates.com>
Date:  Saturday, October 6, 2012 5:14 AM
To:  <public-tracking@w3.org>, Jonathan Mayer <jmayer@stanford.edu>
Subject:  Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology Paper outlining harms of tracking

	Hi Jonathan - 
A few days ago, you invited me (via IRC) to review your recent paper which – among other items – outlines some of the potential harms of tracking. (See https://www.stanford.edu/~jmayer/papers/trackingsurvey12.pdf)
Thanks – As you may have noticed, I've been asking a number of folks in the WG for examples of harms and haven't received very much information in response. So I want to applaud your effort to help provide additional information and to facilitate a dialog. That said, I want to make sure I understand your thinking here – or at least help clarify some of the distinctions you may be drawing. 
I'm curious whether your position is that those harms are equally apparent in a first party setting – where a first party utilizes their own data for ad targeting across the internet? For example, in your scenario where "an actor that
causes harm to a consumer." Is that not also possible in a first party context? Does the first party not have both "the means", "the access" and at least potentially, the ability to take the  "action" that causes the harms you lay out? (e.g., "Publication, a
less favorable offer, denial of a benefit, or termination of
employment. Last, a particular harm that is inflicted. The
harm might be physical, psychological, or economic.")Do you believe that a direct relationship between consumers and first party websites completely mitigates that risk of harm – even where the first parties have significant stores of personally identifiable data?
Has your position evolved over the past few months? Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe that one of the proposals offered by Mozilla / Stanford and EFF sought to address forms of first party tracking. Do I have that correct?
Thanks – I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Excerpt from your paper for the convenience of others.

"When considering harmful web tracking scenarios, we
find it helpful to focus on four variables. First, an actor that causes
harm to a consumer. The actor might, for example, be an authorized employee,
malicious employee, competitor, acquirer, hacker, or government agency. Second,
a means of access that enables the actor to use tracking data. The data
might be voluntarily transferred, sold, stolen, misplaced, or accidentally
distributed. Third, an action that harms the consumer. The action could
be, for example, publication, a less favorable offer, denial of a benefit, or
termination of employment. Last, a particular harm that is inflicted.
The harm might be physical, psychological, or economic.The countless combinations of these variables
result in countless possible bad outcomes for consumers. To ex- emplify ourthinking, here is one commonly considered scenario: A hacker (actor) breaksinto a tracking company (means of access) and publishes its tracking
information (action), causing some embarrassing fact about the consumer to
become known and inflicting emotional distress (harm).9Risks associated with third-party tracking are
heightened by the lack of market pressure to exercise good security and privacy
practices. If a first-party website is untrustworthy, users may decline to
visit it. But, since users are unaware of the very existence of many
third-party websites, they cannot reward responsible sites and penalize
irresponsible sites.10"

Received on Friday, 12 October 2012 00:08:38 UTC

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