Yesterday YLE’s Puoli Seitsemän programme continued the debate on the protection of privacy and targeted advertising, which was started on Tuesday. The programme can be viewed on YLE Areena.

Journalist Matti Toivonen stated that he had begun to feel a bit worried about the way different websites distribute and connect seemingly personal user information. Three people were asked to comment on the issue: a Danish journalist Pernille Tranberg, who has recently co-written a book on the subject, Data Protection Ombudsman Reijo Aarnio and Anders Inno’s Hanna Kivelä.

Tranberg encouraged people to learn the basics of digital self-defence. Consumer information is collected into massive online identity banks whose long-term effects on the society are not yet known. The problem, in Tranberg’s view, is not any single service, but the entire puzzle consisting of a user’s online activities.

Tranberg urges people to be alert and ask themselves whether they can trust the services they are using. Nowadays one cannot withdraw from the web, but people need to discover new ways to manage their online identities in a smart way.

Reijo Aarnio noted that people have different interpretations on the rules concerning privacy. According to data protection professionals the rules mean that if the consumer is tracked while surfing the web permission needs to be asked in advance. Advertisers, on the other hand, see tracking as a part of good customer relationship management, which does not require prior authorization, but consumers should still be given the opportunity to prohibit tracking if they wish.

The program also touched on the slightly different practices in Europe and in the United States when it comes to using private information to do business. Europeans are often more moderate and cautious when deciding whether to use private information about individuals can be freely used as a part of business.

Anders Inno’s Kivelä pointed out that online advertising is the fastest growing form of advertising at the moment. People respond to online advertising, and even want to see advertising. At the same time, however, it should be made sure that advertisers follow good code of conduct and operate transparently.

According to Kivelä building greater transparency is also a general trend. New services are offered to consumers where they can choose whether or not they receive targeted advertising. Practices are continuously developed and people’s ability to manage their online profiles is improving.

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