Do you ever wonder why Facebook and websites always manage to have ads that seem very specific to you? Originally it was the cookie that tracked what you did, where you went, and how you used your internet. After that big scare many people started deleting their cookies every time they surfed the internet. Now? Facebook had the novel idea of the “like” button. Every time a person “likes” something, “magically” they will start seeing more ads geared towards that interest. The next step you ask? The digital fingerprint.

The digital fingerprint is a compilation of all the information about your specific computer: preferred font sizes and types, screen resolution, websites visited, and programs run most often, just to name a few. It isn’t a program that you can delete or reset every time you use your computer, it is permanent. Law enforcement and companies dedicated to finding credit card fraud having been using this technology for some time, but the biggest market for the companies providing this service is advertisers. Advertisers will be willing to pay the big dollars for it too. With this technology, businesses will be able to target very specific groups of consumers, on more sites than just Facebook, which no longer have to be designated by age, location, or even expressed interests. They will be able to jump straight to the needs, real or supposed. Digital fingerprinting is the next leap in targeted advertising.

Obviously, digital fingerprinting brings up questions about ethics. This technology should be limited to advertising, law enforcement, and other organizations that have a legitimate reason for its use.  Also, with such a widespread reach of this product, what is to stop other individuals or institutions from finding a way to obtain this information? On the other side of the argument though, smaller niche companies will finally have an effective way to target their customers. It can be argued that advertising costs will decrease with such an efficient method of targeting a specific market segment. However, for those who feel a severe violation of their privacy, the websites offering this service will also be offering a way to opt out. This technology is sure to bring up much debate. For business I see it as a great innovation, but personally, I will be opting out.


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