Here’s a brief excerpt from a FTC filing my Center for Digital Democracy will submit today for the commission’s online advertising and privacy guideline proceeding.
“Google and most other online advertisers would prefer to hide behind the erroneous claim that IP addresses and cookies don’t reveal an individual’s physical identity (place of residence, phone number) or specific economic identifyer (social security number). But they know that in today’s digital marketing era, the very tiny bits of personal behavior they have identified are parts of individual human identity. Our “virtual” identities may be composed of discrete and disassembled bits of information about ourselves: what we like to read, watch, buy; our problems and concerns (such as health or our children’s education) or our political interests, but they are very much living aspects of ourselves. The goal of interactive marketing is to collect, analyze, and use such information to serve the interests of those paying for the targeting. The technique uses one, two or multiple individual data points in a variety of ways (search ads, broadband videos, virtual worlds) to get individual consumers to behave or act in ways that favor or reflect the marketer’s goals. The record makes clear that IP addresses and cookies provide the technical means for the one-to-one targeting of consumers.”