In Europe, consumer privacy advocates are starting to increase the public's awareness of the consequences of behavioral advertising. According to the MediaPost Daily Online Examiner blog, several consumer privacy advocates are calling for the public to picket the annual meeting of BT shareholders due to the Internet Service Provider's (ISP) arrangement with a behavioral targeting vendor:
"The purpose of the protest is to make BT shareholders aware of the past and planned use of allegedly illegal interception technologies to sell behavioral profiles to an ex-spyware company... according to a report today in the U.K. paper The Register... an anti-Phorm petition in the U.K. has drawn more than 13,000 signatories to date. The petition, stating that Phorm’s plan 'would result in the browsing habits of the majority of the UK population being sold to a third party for advertising purposes,' warns that the opt out system for this technology is vague and unproven."
I've Been Mugged readers are aware of the consequences of behavioral advertising, which includes plans by ISPs to install tracking software on their servers to monitor every Web site and page their subscribers use and all search terms they enter. ISPs and advertisers claim two reasons for behavioral advertising: a) convenience for consumers with relevant ads, and b) the continuation of free services by ISPs. The reality is that consumers forfeit privacy for benefits they may never see, and ISPs gain a larger, more valuable advertising revenue stream.
If behavioral advertising troubles you (and it should!), I encourage you to read more about it and then tell your elected government officials about your concerns.