Yahoo! to Offer More Privacy


In an interesting turn of events, Yahoo! (who, along with 32 other companies, is about to get picked on by a Congressional committee over their customization and privacy policies) has announced that anyone who wants to enhance their privacy on the Yahoo! network will soon be able to do so. They couch this in terms of “opting out of customized advertising” but the effect is the same: Yahoo! will stop sharing so much of your details with advertisers who are anxious to target you.

While the new option is likely to delight web workers (and others) who value their privacy online, I have to wonder what drove the announcement. Is Yahoo! just running scared of Congress, or is this an implicit admission that targeted advertising doesn’t bring in enough money to be worth selling, because it really doesn’t work? And if the belief in targeted ads is cracking, what’s going to fuel the continued livelihood of those of us out on the Web 2.0 end of things?



It’s important to put the brakes on now and then when it comes to privacy issues on the web. Too many web users (and web professionals) accept invasions of privacy such as targeted advertising as a given. As web policy evolves so quickly, I’m glad that policymakers are questioning norms and asking for reports like this from major players. Even if nothing comes of it, the discussion is healthy.

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