posted May 27, 2001

Web form allows people to opt out of data collection Privacy from Companies5/27/2001; 4:59:30 PM 'People seeking to protect their privacy can complete a single Web form to keep major advertising companies from collecting data about their Internet browsing and shopping habits.'Under pressure to protect privacy better, the advertising industry has set up two new Web sites that let computer users refuse to have their personal data collected and profiled when they visit popular commercial Internet sites.'The article does give the website URLs at the bottom: Network Advertising Initiative and Anderson Compliance. The Network Advertising Initiative site seems to be the one with the actual opt-out functionality.I was curious how you are identified to the opt-out program, so I decided to try it with Doubleclick. As I expected, all the opt-out does is set your Doubleclick cookie to the string "OPT_OUT", which means that the opt-out only applys to the current user of the current browser, and if your cookies are ever deleted the opt-out is gone. Not only is the average consumer going to have a difficult time opting out due to lack of knowlege of the process, but even for a savvy computer user like me, it's going to be virtually impossible to stay opted out, since the system is so weak.Frankly, this opt out thing is virtually useless, because even if you intend to opt out, the slightest disruption to your cookie store (changing browsers, changing computers, changing logons, changing profiles), and you are once again not opted out. This doesn't even rate an A for effort; this is as pathetic as possible.


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