Data mining the social and purchasing trend of online users has been a growing practice and one that has a very eerie "big brother" feeling. The FTC has just concluded a report into the practice and is pushing for tougher laws to allow users to opt out of such practices:
The agency, the Federal Trade Commission, called on Congress to enact legislation regulating so-called data brokers, which compile and trade a wide range of personal and financial data about millions of consumers from online and offline sources. The legislation would give consumers access to information collected about them and allow them to correct and update such data.
The agency also sent a cautionary signal to technology and advertising companies regarding a “Do Not Track” mechanism that allows consumers to opt out of having their online behavior monitored and shared. It warned that if companies did not voluntarily provide a satisfactory Do Not Track option, it would support additional laws that mandate it.
The recommendations, part of a sweeping set of guidelines in an F.T.C. report on Monday, represent the government’s latest move to address the issue of consumer privacy.
Hopefully Congress listens to the recommendations and moves to protect the end user, but I'm not very optimistic. We are dealing with an issue where big money will play a vital role, especially through campaign contributions and lobbying. When those forces are put into play the people always end up on the losing end.