Online banking is the latest frontier in the controversial field known as behavioral marketing, in which detailed personal information is used to target advertising. Consumer groups have decried the practice as an invasion of privacy, particularly since users often do not realize who has access to the most intimate details of their lives.
"It's definitely troubling," said Justin Brookman, head of consumer privacy for the Center for Democracy & Technology. "Most people don't notice them, understand them or opt out from them."
The ads are the brainchild of three-year-old Atlanta software firm Cardlytics, though other companies such as Boston-based Cartera have begun offering similar services. Several banks and credit unions in the Washington area use Cardlytics' ad program, although the firm declined to name them, citing contractual agreements. At least two other local banks will launch the ads in the spring. Regions, based in the Southeast, is the largest bank to have publicly announced a partnership with Cardlytics.
But trust can cut both ways. As the amount of personal data online grows, businesses have had to walk a fine line between using the information for profit and creeping customers out. Facebook learned that lesson several years ago when it was forced to back away from efforts to publish users' browsing habits on public news feeds. And it has been repeatedly criticized for not limiting advertisers' access to users' information, sparking a short-lived but vocal movement to quit the social-networking site.
Such controversies prompted the Federal Trade Commission to craft guidelines that address how and when companies should notify consumers about who has access to their personal information. In addition, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) has said he plans to introduce an online privacy bill.
More @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/16/AR2011011603387.html?wpisrc=nl_pmtech
Facebook learned that lesson??? I musta called in sick that day.
Banks see the ads as a potential substitute for popular rewards programs that they say have become unaffordable because of tighter regulations in the wake of the financial crisis...
Sniff, sniff...I smell another BAILOUT cookin' Hey Ben, quick print me up another 2 trillion, and make it SNAPPY...I ain't got all day...