Let’s Ignore Your Privacy For A Moment

Well, let’s start this new month with a new one: The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) rejects the ‘Do Not Track’ request you might have activated in your browser.

The reason?

Well, simple, by using tracking cookies most internet services receive marketing information they can sell to make something of an income and keep their services free.

Commercially, that is a valid reason. Don’t get me wrong. But I cannot understand why ITIF is actually promoting the rejection of the Do-Not-Request request instead of a opting out, and messaging the user that their service is not available to users who have the option turned on.

Sure, that concept is mentioned in the bottom of the article, but still, taking the side of the service provider instead of the user.

Because, right now, they opt for a message box that simply tells the user that the request has been rejected, and then sends them still to the site, using the tracking cookies.

At least add the line of text ‘If you do not want to be tracked, you cannot make use of this website’. Right now, it actually sends the message that a user has no right not want to be tracked. It tells them ‘the website owner rejects it’ and simply goes on.

The reason why they do it, of course, is because otherwise too little amount of people will just turn around and move somewhere else.

It is time that companies, and people, start to understand that ‘free’ doesn’t exist. Money needs to be made in one way or another for any kind of services to stay ‘free’.  YouTube stays free right now because Google is making enough money to keep it alive. Or, in other words, YouTube might be a huge money-hog, the money is being shipped into the company from mother-Google. So, money is coming in.

But if a service is free, only gets money through advertising and no other way, then one moment, that well will run dry.

And this ‘rejecting’ to make sure ‘free’ services can still earn money through advertising is in any way a delay of execution, with advertising money dwindling. They might survive right now, but with costs per click going down, it will not be for long.

Companies need to make money. That’s the #1 rule in commercial economics. If you don’t earn money, you don’t have the right of existence. And, if there is no money, you cannot spend any money.

I personally think it is not so weird to have the opinion to have companies close down if there is no money coming in. If people want to use only free services, and are not willing to spend a single dime on your service, maybe your service is not that a bright idea.

Facebook and Twitter, for example, are very successful productions. They have hundreds of millions of users. But, the moment they will charge a penny for their services, those numbers will immediately drop down. In other words, people love it when it is free… but are not willing to spend a bit of money into it.

Rule #2, commercial products cost money… that is why they are commercial products; they require commerce… money.

And no matter how much we will resist against this, eventually, the general rules of economy will prove to be able to be steady. Nobody is working for free if you are not volunteering. And that money has to come from somewhere.

Everyone turning a hobby into a job, or starting a start-up knows this all too well. There is nothing happening for free. If you want to set up a service, you have to dig into your own wallet. If that wallet is empty, and you cannot loan money, nothing is happening. And if you do loan the money, that money has to be returned at one moment.

But people, as I mentioned in an earlier blog posting, have the right to claim the ‘do not track’ functionality. The service, on the other hand, has of course the right to prevent access then. But in my opinion, even by the constitution, the person’s right to privacy is more important. If a person did not sign a EULA in which explicitly states they want their information to be tracked, and they have the ‘Do-Not-Track’ request turned on, sites should acknowledge that.

And sure, the user can then get an ‘access denied’ screen. Not a ‘still continue while we ignore your request’. ITIF should promote that. Sure, one after another free service will drop down like dead flies… but, like with any industry, it will clean up the wildlife of productions.

And I think, if companies would be absolutely clear with what they do with the privacy information (like what they now have to do in the Netherlands) it might turn into ‘Do-Not-Trackers’ into ‘trackers’ because they don’t mind what that site does with their info so much.

But sites that get as much info as possible from the user and sell it right away without doing anything, sure, they will probably not use those anymore.

In the end, the landscape of the web will change anyway. Free services will be fed through sponsorships from bigger companies. Google need YouTube, and it pays a hefty sum for it. But Microsoft does this also with their services like Bing.

But, there are also the services like Pandora or Spotify; if you want the best experience, you need to pay up. Sure, those amounts of users might be less than the free users, but still, they build up an stand-alone source of income. And if that doesn’t work out, it will have the same effect as any company that hits rock-bottom; they will go out of business.

And don’t feel too harsh for that; it happens all the time… and there are always new services that appear again.

So, what I mean to say… ITIF… think before you blurt out these kind of sayings.

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