It seems that Facebook is getting better at predicting new friends of mine and activities than I actually want it to be. These days, I log on and acquaintances of acquaintances appear on my news feed. Photos of mutual friends are on my sidebar. Everything Facebook does is trying to urge me to creep on other people and find some common ground.
The ads on the side of my page are getting increasingly appealing as well. Just the other day I was offered discounted Jet Ski rides after I had just spent the last couple of days trying to find good deals. I was genuinely excited that Facebook was connecting so well to my real life, until I realized that my name was popping up on random people’s news feeds as well.
Facebook and other social networking sites have been engaging in some creepy activity. Thanks to trackers embedded in Web sites, companies and advertisers are slowly building up an arsenal of data on everything you do. The saying is true- anything you do on the Internet is there forever.
Companies are selling information about you to outside sources that then target you. Big Brother is really starting to loom in the Internet age. However, the government is starting to step in. Senator John Kerry is pushing a bill to center around a new type of freedom: privacy on the Internet. The bill is receiving support from Democrats and Republicans alike. Though there are disagreements over some details, the bill looks like it will pass because Kerry is pushing for some basic freedoms in this new legislation.
The bill’s target principles will center on data collection and data usage. There will be measures that force data collection services to inform the consumer that they are being tracked. Companies will also have to reveal what information is being used and for what purposes. Before even starting the collection, however, advertisers will have to get consent for the information. These regulations will allow consumers to choose not to have their information tracked and can even demand that their files be deleted.
This bill is long overdue and hopefully will build a shield to protect individuals’ privacy while surfing the net.
Natasha Tomchin is a freshman majoring in history and public relations. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.