Don Marti

Sat 19 Jul 2014 07:07:47 AM PDT

Surfacing, not hiding, the creepy?

Let's look at the scorecard for the surveillance marketing game. The mainstream coverage would choose up sides like so:

vs.

Not so good for the privacy side. But if you do some research, the scorecard probably actually looks like so:

vs.

Quite a difference. If you're a platform vendor using privacy as a selling point, how do you make the user aware of it? Most platforms try to conceal tracking. But if you're working with the creeped-out feeling instead of trying to soothe it, you need to give the user a little hint of, "Gosh, I'm glad I didn't step in that!" in the same way that a mail application shows you the count of messages in your spam folder. For example, users could get a notification when entering the range of a new wireless shopper tracker, then have the option to hush it up.

The dreaded "Do you want to accept this cookie?" dialog could even be simplified. Instead of presenting the cookie with no context, you could get...

Do you want to accept tracking by example.com? This site appears on the following lists:

Block this site / Block all sites covered by both of these lists / Accept tracking

The challenge is to add just enough "look how I'm protecting your privacy—aren't I a good little device?" to keep the user uneasy when he or she uses something else.