Data property rights moving to front burner?

Another example this past week of the co-equal, but less prominent facet of the privacy issue – data property rights  – coming to the fore.

Wired reported that Specific Media was sued in Federal court for violating users’ privacy by a) using flash cookies to reconstruct http cookies that had been deliberately deleted by users and b) having a deliberately misleading privacy policy.  If these claims prove to be true, they are a great example of the serious issues the industry faces with privacy.

Particularly interesting, though, was the perspective in a comment on Mediapost’s coverage here from an employee of FAN – Fox Audience Network.  The commenter made the point that while this was a privacy issue, it was also a data ownership issue.  He went on to state that there is a legitimate reason for a publisher to use flash cookies, (e.g., the Pandora  buffering example cited by Wired) and that publishers have legitimate claim to user data as part of the implicit deal struck by users in consuming free content.  A network like Specific Media seems to have no such legitimate reason or claim.  Flash cookies used by a network are there for one reason only:  not as many users know how to delete them.

I recently congratulated Krux digital on their plan to help address the lack of reporting and enforcement capabilities for property rights in data.  Based on this announcement last week it looks like Krux already has a new competitor.

I have written before that this second facet of the privacy debate is widely underestimated, but it looks like that’s changing and that’s a great thing for the industry.

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