Monday, February 13, 2012

Privacy Issues in the new Digital Era

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) takes an active stance in shaping today’s media and public policy. They focus on educational agendas that serve healthy development of children and youth. They study new media developments and look for various (positive and negative) potentialities of these developments. The key issue that they are trying to solve currently is to promote consumer rights to protect privacy in the digital era, where technological advances have been highly beneficial for corporations and advertising agencies.

The issues raised by this group serve the public interest. They play an important role in the regulation aspect of media industry, especially in the content-regulation sector, where they advocate for pro-social regulation. They place tremendous importance on this issue because the nature of the digital era allows for more power for corporations, especially the advertising and marketing sector. Since individual preferences are easier to track in the digital era, the consumers are receiving targeted advertisements when they use any form of media. Bonds between owners and advertisers have developed to execute successful targeted advertisements. This has been beneficial for the owners and advertisers, but not necessarily the consumers. The CDD strongly believes that the current marketing strategy is not in the public interest, and may be detrimental for public health (especially for children and adolescents). They believe that this can determine what kind of society is created as a result of this digital era.

In my opinion, it is impossible to have an effective regulation that discourages “micro-targeted” advertising/marketing because technological conditions have given a platform for this new technique for advertisers. In this profit-driven industry, such a regulation would face major protests. Keeping the priorities of CDD in mind, I would restrict micro-targeted ads for children and youth. More specifically, ads that promote negative activities such as increase consumption of unhealthy fast-food should not be targeted towards young users, while ads that promote positive activities such as not using drugs should be encouraged. The regulation body could possibly create incentives for advertising companies for these positive ads so that they are more abundant in media services. Focusing on the children and youth will not cause loss for advertising companies, and instead will promote a positive social change for this specific group.

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