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Hot on Your Trail Privacy, Your Data, and Who Has Access to It04:41

Hot on Your Trail Privacy, Your Data, and Who Has Access to It

Individual Privacy on the Web involves the right to concealment regarding online storage, reuse of material, distribution to other parties, and public displaying of information pertaining to the content an individual puts on the Internet.[1]. Concerns relating to online Individual Privacy have arisen since the beginning of computer sharing.

The number of trackers collecting information on user’s activities online has been steadily increasing[2]. Data brokers are companies that gather publicly available information about a user and sell it to third parties that may find it useful.  These companies analyze a plethora of data, including information such as zip code, income, ethnicity, search history, to name a few examples.  Some of this information is sold to marketers, employers, and government agencies.  What this information is used for depends on the context; some is used to screen potential employees, background checks, and Personalized Searching.  This has raised some unease regarding Data Leakage, security, and Individual Privacy.

First Party DataEdit

Information that a user personally enters onto an online platform is considered first party data[3]. This can include inputted text, including registration information, status updates or tweets, or search history. First-party data also encompasses online behaviors, actions, or interests demonstrated by web addresses visited. First party data and first party cookies are safe because it is only your own. This information is collected directly and stored by a website, retailer, publisher, or other type of company so that they may gain some knowledge about their consumer base [4]. Because the user inputs this data themselves, there is a virtual agreement that it is now owned by the company that hosts the web platform. When concerns of personal privacy are brought about it has to do with the distribution and marketing of first party data that is performed by some of the web addresses users visit. Collecting first-party data is exponentially valuable for publishers and marketers, considering they may use it to monetize, learn from, and use the information to target specific audiences and increase consumer interest in their product.

CookiesEdit

Cookies are small text files stored in the web browser to help the browser navigate through a particular website. They have information about the browser user, such as, the login information and settings information. Cookies also can be used to track the browser's website browsing history. The cookie is not executable code so it doesn't have any “life” of its own other than being used by the website that created it[5].
The first privacy concern about cookies is well put by Viktor Mayer- Schonberger: “The cookie is stored in the user’s computer without his/her consent or knowledge.” The information is put in the browser and be transferred in the internet without users’ notice. With browser upgrades users may be alerted that they are using a cookie, but they can hardly know what has been stored in that cookie. Additionally, the cookie is cryptic, users sometimes don’t know where is it coming from. In the case of banner advertisers, they are placing cookies on any number of websites, and the user may not always be alerted that the cookie is coming from an advertiser rather than the website itself. In the example above the "Adlink Exchange" server was clear, but on more crowded sites where multiple cookies are offered, the identity of the cookie may become blurred.
Another privacy concern for cookies is the potential for abuse. Once the information of users is gained by advertisers and webmasters from cookies, they can develop a detailed profile of users and their preference. The cookies record the clicks users did in a website, in this case, the website are able to show the same or related information when that user visit this website again. The browser habits of users can also be used by advertiser to provide banner advertisements. There also is possibility that this information of users will be sold and resold to other commercial interests[6].

There is an example of the abuse provided by David Christle: ...if you visited a number of sites that advertise alcohol...and you end up on a list that your insurance company purchases. The list compiled from a variety of Internet sites shows your name as someone who frequents sites that promote alcohol, or at least as someone who is a prime prospect for alcohol sales. They raise your premiums on a profile that has been built about you based upon the sites you visit on the Internet.
Someone assumes this is an accurate profile...and acts upon this erroneous assumption...This scenario may never happen but the door has been opened...Just ask anyone who has been victimized by an inaccurate credit report[6].

Second Party DataEdit

To understand the middle-man, second party data, one must first comprehend the difference between first-party data and third-party data. Second-party data is essentially first-party data that you are receiving from the original source. Companies can make a deal with a publisher to offer specific data points, audiences, or hierarchies to the other company. Both the first party and the second party outline these interests and terms of sale. Not all instances require a second party.

Third Party DataEdit

Third party data is generated on online platforms and aggregated from other websites. Companies often sell this data, making it accessible from many different online spaces[3]. This information does not have a direct relationship with the user whose data they collect. Cookies are often used to anonymously track users and construct profiles of those users. Purchasing third party data is something that should be approached strategically by marketers and businesses. They should consider whether the company uses modeling or registration-based data, or data in which the user inputs themselves, the inferred and interested demographic(s). It is crucial for buyers to outline the demographic(s) which they would like to target to ensure they are purchasing the right collection of data in the respective format.

Privacy Concerns About CookiesEdit

The first privacy concern about cookies is well put by Viktor Mayer- Schonberger: “The cookie is stored in the user’s computer without his/her consent or knowledge.”[5] The information is put in the browser and be transferred in the internet without users’ notice. With browser upgrades users may be alerted that they are using a cookie, but they can hardly know what has been stored in that cookie. Additionally, the cookie is cryptic, users sometimes don’t know where is it coming from. In the case of banner advertisers, they are placing cookies on any number of websites, and the user may not always be alerted that the cookie is coming from an advertiser rather than the website itself. In the example above the "Adlink Exchange" server was clear, but on more crowded sites where multiple cookies are offered, the identity of the cookie may become blurred [5].

CitationsEdit

  1. David Jr, E. E., & Fano, R. M. (1965, November). Some thoughts about the social implications of accessible computing. In Proceedings of the November 30--December 1, 1965, Fall Joint Computer Conference, part I (pp. 243-247). ACM. Retrieved from {{ #NewWindowLink: http://www.multicians.org/fjcc6.html }}.
  2. Singer, N. (2012, November 12). More Companies Are Tracking Online Data, Study Finds. Bits More Companies Are Tracking Online Data Study Finds Comments. Retrieved from {{ #NewWindowLink: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/12/more-companies-are-tracking-online-data/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1 }}
  3. 3.0 3.1 Benjamin, M. (n.d.). 1st, 2nd, 3rd Party Data: What Does it All Mean?. Data Management Platform, Audience Management Platform. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from {{ #NewWindowLink: http://lotame.com/1st-2nd-3rd-party-data-what-does-it-all-mean }}
  4. What Exactly Is First-Party Data?. (n.d.). Advertising Age Glossary Data Defined RSS. Retrieved April 6, 2014, from {{ #NewWindowLink: http://adage.com/article/glossary-data-defined/party-data-defined/245054/ }}
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 All AboutCookies.org - FAQ Section. All About Cookies. Retrieved from {{ #NewWindowLink: http://www.allaboutcookies.org/faqs/cookie-file.html }}
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lori, E.(2010). Cookie and Internet Privacy. Cookie Central. (2014). Retrieved from {{ #NewWindowLink: http://www.cookiecentral.com/ccstory/cc3.htm }}

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