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The Center for Democracy and Technology reports that consumers don’t like it when advertisers track online behavior to tailor ads and content, according to a recent study by Harris Interactive and Alan F. Westin:
The 2,513 adults surveyed were told that Web sites like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN can provide free search engines and email accounts because they profit from online advertising. When asked how comfortable they would be with these sites using information about their online activities to tailor ads and content to their interests, 59% of survey respondents said they would not be comfortable, while 41% said they would be comfortable.
So, is tracking an ethical business practice? I personally don’t mind it. I’m a consumer with needs and problems to be solved. If a company can cut through the junk and tailor ads specific to my needs, then maybe it’s okay as long as I’m interested. Still, this is an ongoing ethical dilemma and most consumers aren’t even aware they are being tracked.