Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Travis makes an interesting comment regarding privacy in response to this post on the Digital Television Industry. I agree that many people may oppose this type of development on privacy grounds, however I can only describe their position as tenuous. The entire reason that television exists today is to allow advertisers to gain access to viewers. To assert that content and service providers should invest in creating and distributing programming to serve some public good (entertainment?) is counter factual. As corporations, service providers aim to maximize value for their owners so refining and targeting demographics, ultimately down to individuals is clearly in their interests for the reasons that I cited before.

From a consumer perspective, privacy can only serve as a waste of time and a waist of an opportunity to learn about valuable goods and services. Most Americans spend countless hours watching television, with almost half of that time spent watching commercial messages. What possible good can be served if majority of these messages are for products that the individual does not want because the advertiser does not know anything about the viewer? I want advertisers to know as much about me as possible so that they can pitch products that I actually value highly.

Privacy advocates often use class to argue for increased privacy. I presume that their argument would be that corporations would focus their resources on more affluent individuals at the expense of the less affluent. However, targeted advertising will make both rich and poor alike better off as advertisers of luxury goods target those who can afford them and advertisers of low cost goods target those who need to make their money go farther. Are their other arguments to make in favor of privacy over utility?

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