HUA HIN, Thailand - United States federal legislators have proposed a new tool
that will allow Internet users to opt out of being tracked by websites and
search engines. An existing "do not call" registry for telemarketers has been
extremely successful in protecting consumer privacy from companies over the
telephone. A similar system for the Internet is long overdue.
The Federal Trade Commission released a privacy report  on Wednesday
outlining the concepts of a "do not track" mechanism to protect consumers on
the Internet from companies, such as Google, that monitor and track web
searches, location, purchases, and personal information in order to target
advertising or products. Many online companies actively do this without
The hope is that the new system, if implemented, will urge the
online marketing industry to self-regulate and to define acceptable corporate
behavior protocols with more transparency regarding personal privacy and data
FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz stated that Internet companies have not done nearly
enough to ensure that web users understand what information is being collected
about them as they make searches, shop online, and browse the Internet.
The difficulty will come with the regulation and accuracy of such a register,
which is far easier with telephone numbers that do not change. The Internet
equivalent, an IP address, can change as often as every few hours for those
using shared broadband services and dynamic addressing.
Initial reaction to the proposal has been mixed, with some leading Internet and
marketing companies expressing concern over the control of such a system and
whether the FTC has the authority to act in this area. Others have praised the
efforts, stating that an opt-out from invasive online data collection by
marketing companies should be mandatory.
has been conducting its own self-regulation this week against what it deems to
be unscrupulous merchants. On Wednesday, the company said it has changed its
algorithm and the way it ranks websites to prevent those that are fraudulent,
misrepresentative, and abusive to customers from ranking so highly.
The move came after the New York Times reported that a local online eyeglasses
seller had purposely antagonized his clients in order to generate a flurry of
online complaints, which worked in favor of his Google search results. The
vendor claimed that Google was unable to distinguish between positive or
negative reports and the more content generated on his site would boost his
search engine rankings - which would in turn gain him more customers and
Google has been typically coy about its updated algorithm and its ability to
weed out bad businesses however the irony is that it doesn’t stop them, or any
business, paying the search company to be in that little box above all the
other websites anyway.
Industry analyst Point Topic released its quarterly broadband report comparing
the costs of getting online across the globe. Five Asian countries appeared in
the top 10 for cheapest Internet connections, with Hong Kong topping the list.
Japan, China, Singapore and Russia were the other four, Romania was the
cheapest European country and the US was down at number 30.
Many countries, such as Thailand, have bottlenecks on international bandwidth
and government controlled Internet service providers which all serve to stifle
competition and hike up the price of getting online.
Nine of the 10 best value tariffs are either pure fiber optics or hybrid
offerings where fiber is a significant part of the local infrastructure.
The world's largest user of pirate software has vowed to get tougher on piracy
by ensuring that all government offices use legitimate software. Chinese
copyright inspectors will be conducting a sweep of all local and central
government office and agency computers over the coming year. Those found using
pirate software will be given funding to purchase legitimate versions.
Piracy in the People's Republic is slowly falling but remains at around 80%
according to research firm IDC. Earlier this year, China was criticized by the
World Trade Organization for allowing pirates to get away with up to 500 copies
of copyrighted programs. The government will also start cracking down on other
pirated merchandise including mobile phones and pharmaceuticals.
IBM has made a major breakthrough in silicon photonics microchip technology;
that is using signals of light rather than electricity to send signals on a
processor. At a conference in Tokyo this week the US-based company detailed
technology that integrates a number of optical and laser communication devices
onto a chip, which may pave the way for three-dimensional microchips that could
incorporate hundreds of processors, memory, and optical networks.
The project, called SNIPER (silicon nanoscale integrated photonic and
electronic transceiver), has been under development for a decade and, if
implemented into a computer, could calculate at speeds of around a thousand
times faster than today’s super computers.
It is likely to be a few years before the public gets their hands on such
machines, although it was only a few years ago that we were working on
keyboards the size of suitcases, monitors that weighed more than a child, and
machines called 8086’s with 8 MHz processors ... and that was more than enough!