As noted in an earlier post Go Viral + a web video swarm, behavioral tracking is a popular topic among marketeers as companies try to leverage information from data mining (so careful what you click). The hullabaloo on Adobe and Apple partaking in tracking -- as acknowledged by Photoshop product manager John Nack in 3 posts so far-- got me thinking about behavioral targeting again. For more check out Anil Batra's ISP based Behavioral Targeting and Watching What You See on the Web from the Wall Street Journal, though the topic still confuses me.
I was also confused by all the Omni-s: Omni Consumer Products LLC which borrows its name from Robocop was involved in the Idiocracy energy drink, and The Omnicom Group owns Agency.com ran some behavioral marketing project for Adobe. But it's Omniture which collects data from iTunes and CS3 clicks through a tricky domain "2o7.net" (it's an o not a zer0).
Both Mitcho.com and dev.netcetera.org discuss opting out of the schema.
Anyway, there are privacy concerns and even under the current Bush administration the Federal Trade Commission took note, albeit for "self-regulation" with Online Behavioral Advertising Privacy Principles. Maybe Adobe is going to tap revenue streams for services, which was perhaps signaled by the purchase of Scene7. They could leverage existing products a la Bridge Home and the Flash panels, and draw in new customers with free services like Adobe Share and Adobe Media Player plus all the AIR widgets looming on the horizon. The question is still open on which direction the industry in general takes: follow the seemingly hands-off model of Google (expires in 2038) or go brilliant but "evil" like Facebook. GigaOM summarizes many of the issues in How to Safeguard Your Privacy Online.
Update: Wired takes a look at the World's Top Surveillance Societies and a mix of privacy and fear concerns in THREAT LEVEL's Year in Review -- 2007.
The trend in video seems to be "social-networking TV," an electronic panopticon where you can "participate in your own manipulation," as EBN mused.
Update 2: In a funny turn, if you remember the revelation about the pre-9/11 wiretapping by the telecom giants and dark forces, the Democratic National Convention Committee announced their telecom provider for their convention. See DNCC Goes With Qwest.
Update 3: John Dowdell notes a story from the BBC in Underestimating privacy, where "a newspaper columnist said 'oh privacy is overrated' and published his bank account number to prove it." He also notes the scraping friends story from Judi Sohn's Scoble, Facebook & Plaxo: It’s a matter of trust. And fear. Privacy policies may change with the bottom line.
Update 4: John Nack has more from Adobe on the issue.