Monday, July 13, 2009

My response to Safecount

Thank you to all the people who emailed me their thoughts, and those who left comments on my previous blog post regarding Safecount's request that their cookie not be included in TACO.

After thinking things through, I sent Tom Kelly, the company's COO this response:
Hi Tom,

The feedback I received on my blog was not particularly supportive of your request.

I have thought things through, and decided to do the following:

1. I have added a note to the TACO home page, which states:

"Safecount argues that they are not a behavioral advertising company. However, they are a member of the Network Advertising Initiative, and do collect detailed data on the browsing and ad-viewing habits of Internet users. Furthermore, this data is often collected with no notice provided to the user on the web page where Safecount's tracking code has been embedded. "

2. If you or your engineers would like to spend a day or two creating the code necessary to enhance TACO, which will provide users with a list of the companies whose opt-out cookies are available and or active, and a way for users to disable individual opt-outs, I would be happy to look over such a patch, and if it is decent, consider applying it to the mainline TACO codebase.

Such a feature would be nice, but frankly, it isn't important enough for me to spend my own time developing it. However, just to be clear, even if such an ability to disable individual opt-out cookies existed within TACO, I would have them all turned _on_ by default. That is, users would need to go into a preferences window, scroll down through 60 or so company names (since Safecount is not at the beginning of the alphabet), and then choose to disable your opt-out cookie.

As you know very well (and in fact, your business model depends upon it), few consumers ever take the time to dig through preference windows or look into privacy policies in order to learn about particular company's activities. Thus, were such a feature to exist, I highly doubt if more than a handful of consumers would ever make use of it.

In any case - I would be happy to consider such a patch, but I suspect that it probably isn't worth your engineers' time to work on it.



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