When Privacy Is in Question, Apply Transparency

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window_smallADOTAS – As more and more parts of our lives are made public on the Internet by means of search engines, social networks, e-mail and even mobile devices, the debate over how to control the access to and use of that private information is heating up.

When web publishers and advertisers employ a user’s personal information to catch his attention or provide more relevant content, it results in a better experience for that user. The use of personal information should be of mutual benefit. For this to be so, however, transparency is required.

Take for example the recent Google Buzz rollout, which showed the perils of not being open with consumers about the data collected. The result was an amazing product that lacked transparency and resulted in a major consumer and public-relations snafu.

Everyone has their own particular level of tolerance when it comes to needs or concerns over their privacy. By letting individuals control the information on the public domain information that relates specifically to them, marketers are guaranteed a pool of prospects that have already indicated, implicitly or explicitly, what kind of content or campaigns they will be most responsive to.

Openness leads to trust and consumer confidence, a better user experience and happier advertisers and publishers.

Today, there are two webs on which Internet users live, work, and play. One is the open, honest, personal (social) web, where users make little to no distinction between their online and offline lives.

Alternatively, there is the anonymous web. Any link, comment, article, eBay account, online store, or other piece of online content is more trustworthy when we know the actual person behind it.

Therefore, trust earned in one arena (e.g., this person has a sterling reputation on eBay and has a lot of credibility on Twitter) should be transferrable to other parts of life (e.g., when applying for a job). Merging these worlds into one transparent network will benefit us all.

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