The Ethics of Collecting User Data

Upon hearing the word “cookie” most people think of the delicious treats their mother used to make when they were a kid. Digital cookies are far from their real-world counterpart, and are used to track data about an internet user’s habits and preferences. For this reason, as any digital marketer can tell you, digital cookies are the subject of a complex debate regarding internet security and privacy.

So what is the debate?

Some internet users feel that it is unethical for websites to examine cookie data to learn more about anyone who visits their site. The companies typically use this information to collect metrics about their audience and then use this information to optimize the site to fit the people visiting their site. For example, if a company learns that most of their traffic is from mobile devices, they know that they should focus on making their site mobile-friendly to improve the user experience

The Verdict…

I believe that collecting user data and reading visitor cookie data is ethical as long as the site alerts the user that they collect cookie information. This way, it gives the user the ability to opt out if they feel they don’t want the site to have access to their information. If the company does not make it clear what type of data they are collecting or even tell the user they are collecting data I believe that they are not ethically trying to collect information.

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