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BizReport : Research archives : June 07, 2007

Microsoft could "unlock" user identity

Just how anonymous are users online habits? Maybe not as anonymous as they once thought. The question is, is this good for online marketers or not?

by Kristina Knight

According to reports, Microsoft's China base is developing new software that can not only target users but can potentially identify them. By creating a very elaborate profile, the software could determine the age, sex and even location of specific users. The program makes the determinations based on users behavior while online.

This would be a huge boon to online advertisers who could better target ads to users across the globe. However, coming from China, many worry that it will be used to track down so-called subversive residents.

According to Reporters Without Borders, "[We] believe it is unacceptable to carry out this kind of sensitive research in a country such as China, where 50 people are currently in prison because of what they posted online.”

Online privacy has been fought over territory for many months, with some pointing out that search giants Google and Yahoo already collect too much user information and are impeding the privacy of citizens across the globe.

Though the software hasn't been released, it would behoove online marketers to tread slowly into this new territory. With more users speaking out against the storing and use of their private information, being associated with this type of software may be a bad business move.

Tags: behavioral targeting, geotargeted advertising, online targeting, targeted marketing

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