It is interesting that the New York Times would publish an article titled “[http://tinyurl.com/mu53oy] Ads Follow Web Users, and Get More Personal.” See The July 30, 2009 business story.
What is a truly fascinating development here is how web companies are now trying tie legacy data banks of highly personal information to online information in order to figure out how to get consumers to spend more money on products by constantly presenting to them highly focused relevant advertisements based upon their likes, dislikes, socio-economic profile, etc. Couple this with all of the innovative work being done in the field of [http://tinyurl.com/nztmcd] predictive modeling and you have a prescription for producing something highly useful and beneficial on the one hand, to something that could be abused, or worse yet, used against individuals. If you have ever used [http://www.pandora.com] Pandora, you will see a good use of [http://tinyurl.com/nztmcd] predictive modeling.
Having done a great deal of research and work in the area of privacy, I am particularly sensitive to this aggregation of information. We dealt with a number of interesting and complicated issues long before the Internet age, and many of the issues we were researching then are relevant today. Suffice it to say, we each need to be cognizant that the advertisements presented to us are not the same as may be to our neighbor. So the next time you click on an advertisement, think about how you are leaving a breadcrumb trail of interests for the next marketer to exploit.