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by Mike Bloxham

As we’ve moved ever-closer to the inevitable reality of marketing messages that are targeted at either the household or individual level across just about any communications platform, the issue of privacy has kept pace like a sheepdog attempting to herd a large and unruly flock of sheep. The relationship is inevitable, unpredictable and not entirely one of choice — but it’s here to stay.  

 

From the origins of direct mail through to the present day with online behavioral targeting, email marketing and the seemingly imminent promise of addressable TV advertising, the issue of privacy has gained more attention. There are more advocacy groups established to represent the interests of consumers, taking pot-shots at those who allegedly play fast-and-loose with personal information for commercial gain). Periodically we see politicians weighing in on the topic as well.

From an objective perspective, there is no doubt that the issue has become more complex, as technology has enabled the harvesting, mining and leverage of more and more data based on individual behavior. And there’s no suggestion that the ever-expanding universe of data sources will diminish in the foreseeable future.

Not surprising, then, that we see The Center for Democracy & Technology publish a document this week calling on the incoming administration to pass new legislation to protect consumers with regard to the use of their personal information — wherever it was gathered (read online and offline). The document also calls for a redefinition of “personally identifiable information” in light of advances in technology.

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