Ethics of Tracking User Data

In the online space, people understand that a certain amount of data will be collected. From a digital marketing perspective, it is best to collect as much data as possible. This is in order to better market to your audience. However, this is in conflict with internet users who value their digital privacy. In general, there is a certain amount of data that it is ethical to track, but collecting more data is unethical.

Ethical Tracking

There are many different types of data that can be collected by Google Analytics. These include page views, time on site, and bounce rates. In my opinion, these are ethical types of data tracking. These provide a fair amount of information about how well the site performs with an audience. It also avoids collecting personal information. Most people would understand why this data is being collected and would not argue with its collection. This is ethical because the data is contained to the company website.

Unethical Tracking

There are many other types of data that Google collects, such as demographics, location, and marketing interest. These are collected via cookies that follow consumers throughout their web browser. In my opinion, these types of data collection are unethical from a personal privacy standpoint. This is because the data is not limited to the company’s website, and instead follows users around their web searches. This infringes on consumer’s data privacy. While general information on demographics such as age and gender and location can be helpful information to market audiences for their campaigns it isn’t something people can opt-out of being collected. It is unethical to collect data from consumers without allowing the option to avoid this collection.

This information can be largely important to marketing campaigns. Targeting specific people works better when there is information on who follows your campaign. However, marketing benefits must be balanced with privacy. Collecting data on demographics and location is an invasion of privacy and therefore unethical.

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