My hat is off to Kara and Walt for warning readers of All Things Digital about tracking cookies on their site. Today, it seems that surfing the web is akin to wading naked into a mosquito infested swamp. You can’t avoid getting stung, but you have no choice– your home is in the middle of this swamp. And it wasn’t because you decided to build your house in the swamp– the mosquitos saw where you lived and decided to locate where you are for convenience.
Not all tracking cookies are evil, but how is the consumer to know who is doing what with your data and where you’ve been? Usually, it’s a good thing, such as remembering that you’ve come to a place before. Sometimes it’s questionable, such as retargeting or remarketing, where you are followed around the web just because you went to a particular site. And sometimes it just outright unethical, such as flash cookies (which aren’t even cookies) and are nearly impossible to be removed. With new technology comes new opportunity for advertising in ways that even industry pioneers haven’t considered yet– and certainly not regulators. Check out what Roger McNamee has to say, for example. If you’re an advertiser, what are you doing about this? If you’re a consumer, what do you think, given there isn’t much you can do?