my turn


I Want To Be Tracked In 2013

Raise your hand if you’re sick to death of all of the privacy misinformation and fear-mongering in the press lately. We all are. There’s so much hype around the topic, it makes the recent political campaigns seem tame by comparison. The truth as we see it is that there’s a lot of consumer benefit to tracking. Wouldn’t it be great if someone shared these benefits with consumers? I would love to see a letter written to The New York Times by a consumer -- in defense of tracking:

Dear Editor:

I want to be tracked in 2013.

I realize that sounds crazy, but based on my understanding of the conversations regarding the Do Not Track initiative, I want to be tracked. And with a proper understanding of what this actually means, I believe other consumers will want to be tracked too.

Here’s why:

    • If I must see ads online, I prefer that they be relevant to me. If I’ve been shopping for home décor, it’s helpful for me to see an ad for discount curtains. It’s less helpful to see an ad for diet pills. It takes cookies and tracking to get that right.
    • When I use my loyalty card at the supermarket or drugstore, I’d like to receive coupons for things I actually might buy. Apart from the rewards point, that’s the reason I have a loyalty card -- so I can be rewarded with coupons and rebates for the things I like. Collecting that type of information requires tracking, too.
    • I track my calories and workouts with a smartphone app, and it would be great to get tips and recipes that match my goals. I’m working hard to stay fit and healthy, so serving up low-fat, low-calorie dinner options and ideas for new workouts would be great to keep me motivated and moving toward my goal. And yes -- that takes tracking, too.
    • I love the new auto insurance plans that track my driving. I’m a good, safe driver. If tracking means saving money on insurance, track away!
    • And while I’m in the car, please track me with OnStar or some auto-based app. I would love for someone to know if I drive into a ditch, or be able to track my car if it’s stolen.
    • I use a fabulous online grocery service. Tracking is super-helpful there because it remembers my past few lists and shows me which of my previously purchased items are on sale this week. It even offers serving suggestions for my favorite produce items. How helpful is that?
    • Also, continue to track me as I play games online. That way, my scores will be remembered and I won’t have to start from scratch every time I log on.



I would contend that by being tracked in any of these situations, it’s highly unlikely that I am in any way jeopardizing my future or my safety. No one is digging into my financial history, no one is exposing any adult websites I may have visited, and no one is poking around in my medical records. The cookies I accept deliver a little bit of information about my browsing history -- just enough to keep my experiences relevant and, honestly, make my life easier.

Not that I’m taking anything for granted. I’ll continue to read and learn so that I can make informed decisions about how I want to be tracked in 2013 and beyond.

Thanks for hearing me out.


Concerned (and sometimes Contrarian) Consumer


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