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Shopping Online, Privacy, Data Protection and Third-Party Tracking

In the wake of yet another e-commerce data breach in which the names and email addresses of millions of online shoppers and credit card users have been accessed illegally, researchers in the US suggest that privacy discussions, and ultimately legislation must urgently focus on the expanding roles of third-parties handling pervasive online customer profiles.

Nancy King of the College of Business, at Oregon State University, in Corvallis, explains in the latest issue of the International Journal of Private Law that marketers have long created market segments in an effort to create more relevant advertising and efficiently spend advertising dollars.

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What has changed in recent years is that in the online world of e-commerce, tracking technologies allow advertisers to construct personal profiles and use them to individually target consumers much more effectively than ever before. As such, network advertising associations, the owners of consumer databases and data mining services and advertising exchanges are now playing a more and more important role in the online behavioral advertising industry.

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This paradigm shift in how we, as consumers, are marketed to should become high on the agenda in discussions of privacy in the European Union, the USA and elsewhere as legislation to cope with e-commerce is drafted. Continue reading…

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