Opting Out Of Providing Information About Me

Try doing a search in for "behavioral advertising." I wouldn't call the finding in the search results earth-shattering -- but Results 12 through 17 in my search turned up a page titled "Ad Choices: Learn More About Our Ads." The pages indexed and served up in Google News sorted by date originate from online newspapers Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, Sun-Sentinel, Daily Press, and the Los Angeles Times.

Click on the link to find a message to consumers: "In order to provide a more relevant online experience, some of the ads a user sees online are customized based on previous online activity. Information about past online site visits may be used to predict the interests of people using this computer and select ads related to those interests. The goal of Ad Choices is to provide you with information about how online advertising works and the choices you have."

The page also provides information such as who placed the ad, places to learn more about information collected and how ads are selected, and choices consumers have on Internet-based advertising.



I did this search after visiting the hospital for a routine yearly physical. That's when a hospital worker asked me to fill out forms stating my ethnicity, information she said the government would aggregate. She also told me to stop adding my social security number on hospital paperwork, stop giving it to medical workers when signing in for procedures, and stop providing the information to outpatient surgery centers. Too many people have access to the information and patients can no longer be guaranteed that the government-issued numbers won't end up in the wrong hands and sold to someone else, she said.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse suggests "a significant amount of evidence showing ID theft cases emanate from medical offices." Officials say it's one reason the health industry chose to move records online: to protect consumer privacy and keep better control and tabs on patient information.

I find the whole situation interesting, considering discussions about the Do-Not-Track Me Online Act of 2011 introduced on Feb. 11. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will have 18 months to establish regulations for an online opt-out mechanism, according to Craig Hoffman, who tells us what the new regulations would mean. "The opt-out mechanism must 'allow a consumer to effectively and easily prohibit the collection or use of any covered information and to require a covered entity to respect the choice of such consumer to opt-out of such collection or use,'" he wrote, also explaining the Financial Information Privacy Act of 2011.

I'm opting out of providing my social security number to anyone again. How about you?

1 comment about "Opting Out Of Providing Information About Me".
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  1. Micki Love from Here Come The Brides, February 23, 2011 at 7:35 p.m.

    For those of you old enough to remember, it clearly stated on the bottom of your Social Security card the following: "For Social Security and Tax Purposes-Not For Identification" clearly and in all caps! Not so on the new cards being issued, so I'm with you.

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