More people than ever are watching TV shows online on their computers. EMarketer, which researches the Internet, estimates that 33 percent of adult Internet users in the United States watch TV online each month. That number is expected to grow to about 40 percent next year and continue rising, as online TV programs grow more numerous than ever. Broadcast and cable networks post shows online for free one week after they air, and the online video service Hulu offers a variety of free shows and recently added a US $10 subscription service that supplies even more programs.
Do you watch TV online? Do you think the public will one day abandon cable or satellite TV in favor of online viewing?
Responses to July’s Question
The Limits of Privacy
Blippy, a Twitter-like Web site that automatically broadcasts what users purchase with their credit and debit cards, suffered a major privacy breach in April. Several card numbers, which their owners supplied to the site when they signed up, were exposed in Google search results.
Blippy shows what users bought, how much it cost, and where they bought it. Privacy advocates say people who use sites such as Blippy are divulging a dangerous level of personal information. But Blippy representatives say that sharing what people bought is just the next step in social networking and that such information explores how much our purchases reflect our personalities.
What do you think it says about people’s attitude toward privacy if they’re sharing details of their purchases with the world? Does Blippy go too far?
One More Danger
It’s one thing for people to brag about their purchases, but why do they trust an unknown service with important financial information? I ask the same of those who embrace Facebook, which is in denial of its security risks, and those who Twitter themselves right into the hands of kidnappers. I’d like to hear what governments are doing about those who steal and use personal information fraudulently.
Victoria, B.C., Canada
Don’t Blame Me
The amount of information people will reveal about themselves amazes me. When they or their loved ones become victims of identity theft, cyberbullying, online sexual predators, or other Internet-based crimes, they complain that others failed to look out for them. People simply do not understand the consequences of what they’re doing until it’s too late.
I am also shocked by how poorly our private information is protected by institutions we trust. Even banks and insurance companies make cavalier decisions about ”acceptable risk” regarding our private information. If banks can’t do a great job of securing our data, what can you expect from Blippy?
Bill Van Emburg
They Deserve It
People who sign up to freely divulge the sort of data Blippy collects deserve the consequences. With all the warnings floating around and news stories about privacy breaches, why would anyone ever sign up?
People already divulge too much information on social networking sites, but Blippy is even more dangerous. People are giving away private information for the sole purpose of allowing others to track what they do. How long will it be before someone gets robbed because an expensive purchase was logged via Blippy, or because Blippy revealed that the person was away on vacation or out shopping?
Not only is sharing such information foolish, but it also sets dangerous precedents. If people do not act to preserve their privacy, it will be lost.
I share things with people the old-fashioned way: I tell them myself. I do not tell private things to people I cannot trust. I don’t worry that some friend of a friend or an advertiser will see something I don’t want them to see.
There is nothing wrong with sharing, but it needs to be done responsibly, and Blippy is anything but responsible.
Mark D. Anderson
Green Valley, Ariz.
Blippy goes way too far in transgressing individual privacy. It’s analogous to digging in your neighbors’ garbage to see what they’ve been eating or what mail they’ve received. Also, what if you wanted to buy a surprise gift?
Tell the Whole World
Blippy is ludicrous and is probably useful only for marketing purposes. I would not waste any time looking at listings of what my friends buy.
As for the risk of giving my credit card number to Blippy so it can tell the world about my purchases, I feel it would be only marginally more secure than having my credit card number and PIN tattooed on my forehead.
Marketer’s Best Friend
Blippy sounds like an experiment in target marketing. Marketers could use it to advertise a competitor’s product because a person bought something like it in the past. Some people may want to sign up for Blippy in hopes of receiving discount coupons, but I certainly never will. I already receive enough junk mail, so why would I want to make it even easier for advertisers to annoy me?