The Stigma of Being a Private Person – The Ad Industry Is Losing The Battle

imageTry as they might – apologists for the Internet’s ad industry push to overwhelm common sense in the creation of a bizarre concept – personal openness – appear to be losing. Despite an invasive and manipulative strategy, which has led to a manic drive to strip consumers of any semblance of privacy, it seems we just aren’t buying it.

Contrary to the claims by pseudo social scientists, supported by far to many tech pundits (who, in the real world, wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground), that personal privacy is dead – that consumers don’t care about personal privacy – uncomfortable facts (uncomfortable for the ad industry, that is), appear to tell a different tale.

Hardly surprising, given that these pundits and social scientists deal in “bought and paid for” points of view. Manipulation and deception – by any other name – propaganda – has lost its luster. It’s been recognized for what it is – bullshit.

We are not as complacent, when it comes to personal privacy, as we have been led to believe. More users than ever, have come to the realization that the price of admission to active interaction with the Internet, should not be the complete stripping of the right to personal privacy. Consumers are advancing the notion that the right to privacy is a “natural right”, and should be recognized as such.

Better yet, consumers are pushing back against privacy predators who continuously boost the “creep factor”. In a just released survey from TRUSTe – one more in a long line of recent surveys which refutes the bought and paid for assertions of the ad industry’s propaganda merchants – it’s clearly apparent that these “lie merchants” are taking it on the chin.

Survey highlights:

94 percent think privacy is an important issue, with 55 percent saying that online privacy is a really important issue they think of often.

69 percent say that they trust themselves most when it comes to protecting their own personal information online (up sharply from 45 percent in 2011).

40 percent say a targeted advertisement has made them feel uncomfortable.

53 percent (52 percent in 2011) believe personally identifiable information is attached to browsing behavior.

Consumers take a variety of precautions to protect their privacy online, such as:

76 percent do not allow companies to share their personal information with a third party (up from 67 percent in 2011).

35 percent say that they have stopped doing business with a company or using their website because of privacy concerns.

90 percent say they use browser controls to protect privacy, including deleting cookies (up from 84 percent in 2011).

40 percent say a targeted advertisement has made them feel uncomfortable.

53 percent (52 percent in 2011) believe personally identifiable information is attached to browsing behavior.

For far too long, the Internet’s ad industry (and, the bad actors who support it), have gotten away with their attempts to stigmatize those of us who believe in the concept of the “private person”  – those of us who have sought a balance between the public and private. I’m hopeful, that we may have reached a stage where consumer action will result in tighter controls being implemented against what has turned out to be, a largely unethical Internet ad industry.


Filed under Point of View, Privacy

9 responses to “The Stigma of Being a Private Person – The Ad Industry Is Losing The Battle

  1. hipockets

    This article correlates with your recent “I am not a number, I am a free man! . . . .”

    You and RedNightHawk misinterpreted my comments to that article.

    First, you both seemed to think that I do not value my privacy. Not so.

    For search, I use Ixquick instead of Google and I do not have a Google email address. In Firefox, I have AdBlcok Plus, Better Privacy, DoNotTrackPlus, HTTPS-Everywhere, Masking Agent, TrackMeNot, and, of course, NoScript. I do not have a Twitter account. I do have a Facebook account (with a fake name), but I have accessed it only to look at pictures of my granddaughter. [ By the way, I am not her “friend” :>) ]

    I do not accept third party cookies, and delete LSO and other cookies when exiting the browser. I periodically use CCleaner and CCEnhancer to check for cookies.

    Being a tad on the lazy side, I have yet to install CyberGhost Secure VPN Free. But the point is — I do value my privacy.

    Second, I inserted the quote ““…..sharing personal information is becoming so beneficial and so widespread that we need to shift the discussion from what to share to how to ensure the information is used appropriately.” [ ]

    I suppose I read “. . .shift the discussion from. . .” as ” . . . also discuss . . .”

    Anyway, you seemed to feel that the quote was a synopsis of the whole article. I did not read it that way, and I don’t look at it as “authored by social scientists”.

    I say again – “There’s no question that we need to work toward having information collected only with our knowledge and permission. However, we also need to look at the problem in a larger context . . .”.

    Facebook is a great example why we need to do so. They collect information which is freely given by their users, but the type of information and the way it is used needs to examined.

    Cell phones and email in the U.S. are other examples of making certain that data is used appropriately. Government should not be able to access this information without a warrant!

    Thus endeth my tirade of the day.


    P.S. The following is not a tirade . . . just trying to forestall another article! :>)

    I recently quoted two things from Wikipedia. One quote was made because it fit the topic; it may or may not been made by the person being “quoted” – or by anyone, for that matter. The second was about Chinese wages paid to crack “Captchas”. I used the reference in humor — the numbers were so outlandish that I doubt that they are true. But who knows? It’s a weird world we live in.

    • Hey Hipockets,

      My apologies – it seems that I gave you the impression that you are not a cautious and careful man. Whereas, I know you to be cautious and careful while surfing the Net. Your comment adds weight to that.

      The privacy issue is two fold:

      First, we’ve been bamboozled into believing that the benefits of the invasion of our privacy outweigh the negatives. This is a preposterous assertion, propagated by shills, paid or not, who have little or no knowledge of the underlying technology involved. I will give these people credit – they are experts at crafting illusions.

      But, more to the point – here’s a quote from an article from today’s Tech Net News column: “By combining data from numerous offline and online sources, data brokers have developed hidden dossiers on almost every U.S. consumer,” the members wrote. “This large scale aggregation of the personal information of hundreds of millions of American citizens raises a number of serious privacy concerns.”

      Let me get back to the underlying technology. The direction in which this technology was heading has been evident for years but, it’s only now that the impact of this technology, as illustrated in the article I referred to, has become a “talking point” for politicians. There’s nothing quite like closing the barn door….



  2. John

    Hi Bill,

    These figures are encouraging, yet the other side of the coin is the apparent lack of concern for privacy exhibited by some users of social media sites. Do you think it is a generational, or an educational thing? After all many of our generation used to drive without seatbelts (ok, they weren’t fitted) and after drinking, without giving it much thought.

    Lets hope that the trends shown in your article continue on an upward curve.

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      Yes, I do think the issue is generational. Although, from personal observation, I’m finding young people (at lest the ones I come into contact with), are much more in tune with privacy issues than ever before. Education, I’m sure (call it experience if you like), has much to do with this reversal in attitude.



  3. It’s nice to see that there are still many people who take their personal privacy seriously, and take steps to preserve that privacy. I hope that number is growing. Maybe some of these well-publicized stories of people losing (or not getting) jobs due to material on their Facebook pages has put some fear into people.

    However, I think too many people are still happy to give away personal information in return for whatever little nugget they seek, be it recognition, peer approval, free stuff, etc. These users are either ignorant of the potential consequences, of they just don’t care. I don’t think it’s generational, it’s just that there will always be a segment of the population that responds to such temptation, regardless of whether they are generation X, Y, baby boomers–whatever. It’s the 21st century equivalent of people handing out personal information in return for a modest savings from a store loyalty program. Some people will talk a good game about their privacy, and then give it away for something trivial.

    If you’re getting something for free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold.

    • Hey Stormin’ Norman,

      You make an excellent point – giveaways often mean that we’re the ones doing the “giving” in the form of personal information. The “store loyalty program” that you mention is a great example. Just yesterday in the drug store, I got the usual – “do you have a rewards card for me to swipe” – and, as always, the answer was “NO”.

      Have to agree – we are the “product”.



    • John Bent

      Hi Stormin Norman,

      The two are certainly connected but the risks of not preserving online privacy are way greater than those of accepting a store loyalty card. I don’t believe anyone had their bank account hacked, or their reputation compromised by using a store card.

      I am a lover of free software, part of the reason I subscribe to this blog; that and the excellent quality of the articles and comments 🙂 (do I get something free in return for this testimonial?). I certainly do not grudge receiving a bit of advertising in return for benefiting from the developers’ work. Does this make me a product? To some extent, possibly. I do think it’s a question of scale, though.


      • Hi John,

        I think you would be quite shocked at what some retailers do with your information. Case in point: when they merge their loyalty membership databases with accompanying credit card info harvested from point-of-sale transactions. This is common practice with many companies, and the two sets of data are now inextricably linked. This information is typically held (and brokered) by third-party vendors. Lots of room for abuse and a prime target for identity thieves.

        As to the “question of scale,” think about the scale of retailers like WalMart, Best Buy, Target, et al.

        I stand by my analogy of the two systems and consider the risks fairly comparable.