A computer user sits in front of a screen and starts browsing their favourite website while their child similarly does the same. While this peaceful pastime activity is being enjoyed, however, they are unaware of the hidden pathways through which every detail about them is being disclosed. Because of these pathways, there are people that can get hold of the users’ names, phone numbers, IP addresses of the computers and their households. They have access to information about any users’ income, medical history, gender and age, not to mention what they searched on search-engines and which websites the users visited. They can even learn which online shopping purchases were performed by the users on any recent website. They, who know every detail of users, are not the Big Brothers of “1984” nor are they hackers; they are online advertisers who deliver advertisement on the Internet. The computer user is vulnerable to online advertising companies that value that specific personal data. The focus of this paper is to convince advertising companies that they should enforce regulation by providing an opt-out mechanism and practice permission based data mining in order to protect consumer’s privacy. Moreover, notifying and protecting users before distributing and taking advantage of their personal information is significant to company’s accountability and furthermore allow establishing a long term relationship with customers. I will explore the issue from consumer and also an advertiser’s perspective. As a design student who has been designed companies’ logos, it is significant to gain valuable insight from this topic. By gaining the necessary information in this issue, I can navigate the internet in a more safe and secure manner as a consumer. Background of Data Mining
Online advertising is a growing industry that is based upon the traffic from online views. “Fifty-six of the top hundred websites based on page views in February 2008 presented advertising” (Evan, 2009, p37). For every activity a consumer performs on the internet such as making a purchase, visiting a website or searching on search engines is collected (Charters, 2002). This information is processed and stored automatically through data mining practices and becomes a significant source of revenue for online advertisers without the granted permission or any notification to the customer. Data mining is an “overall process of preparing data, discovering patterns in data, and analyzing that data into useful knowledge” (Tavani, 1999, p137). According to Murphy, “the right to privacy involves the ability of individuals to decide for themselves, how much they are willing to share about their lives, thoughts, and feelings” (Murphy et al., 2009). As personal and behavioural data are collected, stored and sold for more effective advertisement, “loss of control” and “loss of identity” become issues (Drumwright et al., 2009). Moreover, all the information we expect to be remained confidential, such as health insurance numbers and medical records, also become commodities for sale. Internet users have been paying for the “free” online services with their private and personal information (Goldfarb et al., 2011). Effects of Data Mining
Firstly, data mining is based on the Internet and affects the uninformed users by the loss of control over their personal information and right to privacy. Individuals are unaware that the data about them are collected and that they “have no say in how the information about them is used” (Tavani, 1999, p141). For example, search-engine providers summarize and store the entire search history categorically that “enables them to identify the individual IP address” (Evans, 2008, p55). While there is no warning to the consumers prior to collection and storage of their data, users are unaware of the fact that data mining is being conducted every time they...