Web Privacy Is Gone Forever: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-12-02 Print this article Print

The FTC is saying that it wants to give Web users a "Do Not Track" option when surfing to certain Websites. But what the organization forgets is that Web privacy is dead.

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a new "Do Not Track" option that would allow Internet users to stop certain Websites from gathering data about them when they surf to sites. The offering could also stop targeted advertising from impacting users whenever they are on a site. The FTC wants to see the functionality built into browsers. 

Although some might be excited at the possibility of maintaining privacy while surfing the Internet, the reality is, Web privacy is on the way out. While some groups continue to fight for privacy, the majority of Web users don't seem to care about it. And their actions on social networks and elsewhere indicate that absolute Web privacy is a thing of the past. It's unfortunate, but it's becoming abundantly clear. 

Read on to find out why any sense of privacy on the Web is an illusion. 

1. The social world is growing 

Social networks have been the main reason why Web privacy is on the decline. For years, people have been going to social sites, sharing personal information about themselves and uploading photos. By engaging in those activities, users are enjoying a better Web experience, but compromising their privacy each step of the way. 

2. The users don't necessarily want it 

It's becoming harder and harder for someone to make the case that the average Web user really wants to be private on the Internet. After all, if folks are sharing their interests on Facebook, telling the world where they are on Foursquare and using Facebook Connect across several other sites, it doesn't seem that they care all that much about the possibility of privacy. 

3. It's too easy to find information anyway 

In a matter of seconds, the average, savvy Google Search user can find just about anything they want about a person. Through People Search services, they can determine where a person lives, where they're employed and a lot more. As a result, no matter how badly some folks want privacy, they need to realize that finding information about them is becoming easier by the day. 

4. The revenue potential is too great 

Privacy proves to be a real hindrance to companies that are trying to use the data they've gathered to generate revenue. After all, the more information a company knows about a user, the more effectively they can use ads or product placement to capitalize. Although firms still regularly face outcries over privacy, they realize that those complaints die down over time, and the revenue benefits of offering less privacy far outweigh those of succumbing to pressure. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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