EXCERPT12/10/2000 07:00:00 PM Eastern
Below is an excerpt from TV.COM-The Future of Interactive TV
(TV Books), by Phillip Swann, the founder of TV Online Magazine, and former publisher and editor of Satellite DIRECT
and Satellite ORBIT
magazines. Here he warns enthusiasts of the privacy-robbing potential of this new technology:
"I will refrain from mouthing the usual Orwellian cliches, but the people who run television networks and Interactive TV companies will know nearly everything about you. They will know which shows you watch, which products you order, the number of phone calls you make and to whom you make them. Each time you make a selection on your remote control, your digital set-top box will collect that data and send it to the powers-that-be. Philosophers say a person can be defined by the sum of his or her choices. If that's true, your Interactive TV company will have a pretty good idea of who you are.
"WebTV, the Internet TV company owned by Microsoft, has been gathering data on its customers for several years. Every night, WebTV downloads its subscribers' Web site and TV-viewing choices. They then share the information with advertisers so that they can more effectively target their messages."