The Ethics of Selling User Data feat. Alex Golden, David Graham, Khoa Ha and Andrew Rodgers-Schatz Selling Customer Info Is Acceptable • • • Using user data for marketing allows for a more customized user experience (cookie services such as BlueKai and eXelate allow vendors such as Kayak, Hilton, etc to better know what you're searching for and deliver targeted ads based on such) The alternative to targeted marketing would be blanketed advertisements everywhere, in an attempt to deliver the right content to the people looking for it. Users can opt out of tracking if they want. • Advertising allows companies to make money while offering services for free. People are generally opposed to websites that require payment. The money has to come from somewhere, however. Selling user information is the only reason that so many websites can offer free services. Collecting Consumer Info is Unnecessary • Don't need to resort to blanket ads o o o • • • Contextual ads (eg. AdSense) Placement-targeted ads Collecting demographics on page load (GeoIP, time of day) "Opting out of tracking" often equates to not using the product at all Profiles could contain personal information Selling consumer info is not the same as allowing clients to choose what demographics to market to User Info Shouldn't Be Sold • • • • Giving away information provided in assumed confidence is a breach of privacy and trust Selling info is equivalent to for-profit pirating Spam filters make it not worth the cost to advertisers of buying information. If the information is used other than for advertising, the breach of privacy is far more profound. Lowers the bar of entry for identity theft People Should Be Paid For Their Info • The companies people trust with their info should allow some of their profit to pass back to the source of the value (the customers), as it costs little for the companies to gather and distribute the information. Profits Shouldn't be Shared • • • The users are being compensated for their data with provided targeted services. Payment would require a system for delivery. That would require that these corporations have users' bank information in addition to their browsing habits. Aggregating the payment info for millions of internet users would be a HUGE security risk.