When should advertisers be able to collect information about consumers? Are consumers able to be tracked on all sites they visit, regardless of their intentions on the sites?
These questions are being raised consistently in America today. In an article titled
US consumers expect do-not-track to stop all data collection, the issue of "do-not-track" is confronted. In a survey of 1,200 American citizens, 60 percent said that they would expect do-not-track to mean that all data collection on the web or through mobile devices is stopped. This is the stance of many American lobbying groups, who wish to protect the interests of the people. Advertising professionals believe that do-not-track should only apply to behaviorally-driven targeting. Only 14 percent of those polled agreed with this definition.
The FTC in March had this to say about do-not-track; "An effective do-not-track system should go beyond simply opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements; it should opt them out of collection of behavioral data for all purposes other than those that would be consistent with the context of the interaction (e.g., preventing click-fraud or collecting de-identified data for analytics purposes."
All things considered, it is apparent that the definition of do-not-track services is foggy at best. In communication research, behavioral data can shed new light on consumer preferences and needs. Targeted advertising and data collection can be crucial in a study to determine the best methods to market a product and see what types of products may be successful. The question is how much is too much? What crosses the line when tracking individuals. I believe that this topic and article greatly relate to the class lecture on ethics. While information on purchase decisions and behaviors can bring in great data to better target consumer groups, collecting information from unknowing individuals on a consistent basis can cross an ethical threshold. Businesses must way their decisions on the methods of their studies with ethical respects. The Do-not-track issue will stay in the American spotlight as long as companies test the ethical standards that our nation has built.