Do People Own Their Private Information Online? Privacy-Publicacy Fault-line Part VI

Facebook’s big flap last month, over whether or not users own their own private information online, was the subject of my previous post in my ongoing privacy-publicacy fault-line series. (By way of background, Facebook changed its terms of service in a way that was interpreted by many to suggest that users did not own or control their private information. That precipitated a big uproar and Facebook quickly reversed course.)


Well the question of whether people have the right to own or control their own private information online was taken up a notch last month with the release of the FTC Staff’s Revised Behavioral Advertising Principles. Principle Four “states that companies should only collect sensitive data for behavioral advertising after they obtain affirmative express consent from the consumer to receive the advertising.   


On top of that, three high-profile publicacy announcements recently by Google -- Latitude, “Interest-based advertising,” and Google Voice -- all appear to push at the boundaries of the FTC’s revised behavioral advertising guidelines. Of particular interest to the FTC may be whether or not Google’s strong commitment to the FTC in the Google-DoubleClick review -- that DoubleClick’s client’s contractually owned their (private) information -- is still operative in their current privacy policy, given their latest initiatives.  


At the core of the privacy-publicacy fault-line is the question of whether or not people or businesses own their own private information online. Consumers and the FTC appear to believe they do.