If You Can't Beat 'Em, Scare 'Em
Unable to cite any real examples of how BT has compromised anyone's privacy, Mr. Ali falls back on the notion that "The potential for abuse is overwhelming." Kinda like saying because they are used to start an auto that might run over a child one day, that car keys are "immoral."
The totality of his argument is so absolutely unsupported that you have to ask why anyone would bother to write something so goofy and off the mark unless you assume that he probably hopes to gen up a little publicity while there are still a handful of congressman (who know even less about BT than Mr. Ali) circling online advertising and privacy. That not being the case (since I guess as yet no one has read the blog post into the Congressional Record or invited Mr. Ali to spend an hour on public TV chewing on the "immorality" of serving relevant instead of smack the monkey ads).
To add to the merriment, a video on his website invites advertisers to capitalize on the "behavior" of people inclined to click on short videos. But the true subtext is that Mr. Ali's business model is not built on BT, so he can trash it with a clear (if overly aggressive) conscience. And isn't that often the mission of "bylined experts" who are cluttering up nearly every website: to very subtly promote their own interests at the expense of their competition?
You need spend only 10 minutes or so examining Mr. Ali's business to be able to make a case that it is built on deceiving users who - when they think they are clicking on a video on a site they have chosen to visit - are redirected (and left stranded, the promotional video proudly proclaims) on the advertiser's site. Let's see: I was on this site because I like it, CLICK, now I am on an advertiser's site. Not because I clicked on an ad, but because I clicked on an old TV or movie clip. Run, quick, get the immoral squad!
Behavioral targeting was first envisioned by one of the pioneers of the business, Dave Morgan, as a way to help publishers (who didn't at the time have a clue) begin to understand what visitors where doing on their sites and by making certain obvious assumptions about them based on what they read, show them ads that were somehow relevant to their lives. People tend to like ads for stuff they might actually be in the market for. While it was entirely possible from the beginning to cross match registration data (what little there ever was) with IP addresses to be able to personally identify individuals, that was never the mission. After all, look at the billions of dollars that are spent on television based on a very few anonymous data points such as gender, age and the viewing patterns of others with the same demographic characteristics. Knowing your name, address, phone number, social security number, blood type and love of pornography would not help sell one more dollar of advertising in the online world. Intender behavior like building a car on an auto research site is a far more powerful indicator of your inclination to buy a car than is your income and zip code.
But we digress. If someone were able to gather every data point gathered by every independent online entity from Google to Wed MD, from the hundreds of BT vendors to credit cards given to retailers, and save it all in individual folders waiting for the day when we have a government that thinks the nation is ready to identify and isolate groups with certain medical conditions or sexual preferences, race or religion or political beliefs, than THAT would be immoral. But I think it is a little early in the game to come to that conclusion by taking a sophomoric cheap shot at an ad targeting methodology simply because you don't use it in your own less-than-transparent business.