Originally published November 5 2015
Big Pharma's targeted drug dealing scheme threatened by new Privacy Badger web browser extension
by Jennifer Lea Reynolds
(NaturalNews) The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is set to release Privacy Badger 1.0, which is a browser extension that prevents tracking activity on the web. It works with Chrome and Firefox and is a surefire way to get rid those pesky ads that eventually end up on your computer's sidebar or smack-dab in the middle of an article and closely resemble the content of something you might have just read or some topics that you recently entered into a search engine.
While this news is pleasing for many people, it's a safe bet to say that one group probably isn't too thrilled: Big Pharma folks. We can imagine their collective disappointment upon learning that people will be able take steps to prevent themselves from being bombarded by ads and unwanted details about the latest pill, cream or procedure.
We picture furrowed brows in meetings where these greed-hungry people vent about this news, then collaborate to find ways around the anti-tracking browser extension. Perhaps there are loopholes that can "mandate" that profit-making customers (sick people) have no choice but to provide Big Pharma with consumer insight (be tracked) so they can grow their business on the pretense of "making people healthier".
More spent on pharma advertising than research and developmentAt the very least, in dark and twisted behind-closed-doors scenarios, Big Pharma folks salivating at reports of an expected influx of dementia cases. Big Pharma companies are likely already testing their marketing campaigns, to advertise dementia drugs to older adults who search for "memory loss" or "Alzheimer's," for example. Privacy-minded adults who take advantage of Privacy Badger will be spared the aggressive targeted marketing campaigns of Big Pharma.
Tracking consumer habits and targeting messaging to the masses is a huge part of what Big Pharma counts on. In fact, a New York University study found that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, largely subsidized by taxpayers, spends about twice as much on promotional efforts as it does on research and development. Specifically, the researcher's data analysis revealed that approximately 24.4 percent of Big Pharma's sales revenue is spent on promotion, compared to a mere 13.4 percent for research and development.
Think about that for a moment.
Pharma folks are partnering with profit-focused ad agencies who work together to carefully craft brochures, posters, electronic ads and direct mail pieces that are everywhere from your mailbox to doctor's offices to banner ads in an article you're reading. More money is going to this effort -- to wordsmithing, proofreading and creating eye-catching graphics that attempt to remain in line with FDA and other regulations and so on -- than is going towards determining the full health effects and risks of medications.
Third parties track your every online move, but are they really learning about your needs?Tracking your online actions isn't anything new, but it is becoming much more widespread. Whether you realize it or not, third parties are part of your internet-searching habits, and detailed records of what you search for and read is kept on file in many instances. What you did a moment ago, a few weeks ago and even years ago isn't just between you and your keyboard. Tons of social media and career-search sites partner with third parties that can extract information about you, which then allows the primary site to hit you with highly targeted online messaging.
For example, as I write this, I'm looking at a computer screen with a huge ad for some kind of injection that will supposedly allow me to fight frown lines. There's a split-face before/after image of a woman whom I'm supposed to assume looks better because she's received the injection. The ad also includes fine print directing me to check the Full Prescribing Information.
All of this is occurring because I've been searching with the word "pharmaceutical." Yes, at times I have been trying to learn more about the fine lines on my forehead and skin health in general, but just because I'm reading about something doesn't mean I want to purchase anything related to it.
Furthermore, in many instances, I'm looking things up for other people, so some of the messages I'm exposed to are completely irrelevant. Yet people know that I've been reading about anything from frozen bananas to melanoma to a forgotten song lyric from the '80s.
It looks like EFF's Privacy Badger 1.0 has come at just the right time.
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