Joseph Turow is a communications professor at the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania, who has written about advertising and new media as well as testifying at congressional hearings on the subject. He talked about his concerns and why he thinks protecting privacy will save the golden egg-laying goose, not kill it with Multichannel News Washington bureau chief John Eggerton as he reported for the Feb. 21 cover story, Privacy Please.
MCN: You used to argue that transparency and informing people was sufficient protection, but not anymore. Why not?
JT: Because I think it is very complicated. It’s getting exponentially complicated for people to figure out what is happening with their data.
Look at Facebook. It seems like every few weeks another way Facebook is trying to use data complicates the situation and they back off and tell people they are going to set their privacy settings so you can solve this problem.
It is an increasingly complicated world and most people have a life. It’s very difficult for them to figure out how basics of the Internet work. And we found that in studies not just going back 10 years, but surprisingly even recently in the last year or two.
I think it is unrealistic to expect that people will be able to understand how things work given the fact that despite so-called transparency, advertisers are not all that interested in being straightforward about it.
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