EU e-Privacy: Can Cookies be bad for health?

See on Scoop.ithealthcare technology

For quite a long time, the majority of people have used websites blissfully unaware of the level to which their online habits could be used to develop a profile by advertisers, companies and governments; information which might be the basis of targeting with customised messages or observation.


No pun intended, but ‘Target’ (a discount store chain) recently made waves in the media when it became clear that their ability to mine customer information from multiple channels had helped them to identify that a father’s daughter was pregnant before he himself knew about it.


While this instance was not necessarily about online shopping, the concept of gleaning customer relationship management data is familiar – even more so when using website technology. This may not particularly bother someone who is using Amazon to buy some books, however when it comes to health information, many people consider this to be one of the most important, personal and sensitive areas of our lives. Individuals will often choose carefully how and when they reveal detail about conditions or illnesses that they may be experiencing.


The idea that a company might send an email to congratulate you on your pregnancy – even potentially before you yourself became aware of it – is either disturbing, or exciting, depending on your attitude to technology and privacy.


Cookies and multi-channel marketing


Pharmaceutical companies are, like most digitally-enabled information providers, increasingly looking to integrate touch-points and measurement across multiple channels and campaigns. One way of achieving this is through the use of tracking cookies. It is not always an easy thing to do in practice, yet even when successful in an approach for implementation, a brand can then still face new hurdles around a person’s individual privacy preference.


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