Targeted Ads: Where Is My Privacy?

iPhone Opt Out

Verizon recently updated their policies to allow targeted ads for their subscribers (via TechCrunch). What this means is that users’ smartphone habits can be sold to third parties for targeted advertising. The good news is that users can opt out if they so choose. However, whether or not any information has already been shared is hard to determine. If they have, it may be a sign of things to come as carriers and other companies begin to do this sort of thing then figure they can ask you if it’s okay later.

Is there a positive side to this sort of thing?

It may be hard for some to see a plus to this sort of thing, but the good news is that targeted ads can cater to a specific person. At the very least, they’re relevant to your interests. For instance, right now, my Gmail account has a small text ad for Dance Central 2 for Xbox. It’s likely because somewhere in my inbox or browsing history there was mention of Xbox or Kinect or something along those lines. So yeah, at least the ad mentions something it’s assumed that I am interested in.

The not so good?

We all enjoy privacy, but this sort of advertising can be intrusive. Imagine your browsing and search history being shared with others. Now advertisers can see that you’ve been enjoying a lot of porn lately, or that you frequent the singles sites in hopes of finding your true love. Sure, they don’t know you, but it still feels invasive, and perhaps even embarrassing.

Opting Out

Now carrier Verizon has sent out notifications informing subscribers that they can opt out if they so choose. They can choose to have Verizon not share their information and history with third parties.

Apple has a similar option on the iPhone:

iphone-internet-ad

This is a nice option that lets you tell Apple not to share your information with others. That’s why it helps to read those terms and conditions no one ever reads, possibly resulting in a Human CentiPad. Maybe the terms should look more like this.

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