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Advertisers and marketers say this specificity is useful, taking out the guesswork involved in online-only profiling, and showing products to the people most likely to be interested. Retailers including Gap and Victoria’s Secret are using this tactic.
But consumer advocates say such unseen tracking is troubling. On the old Internet, nobody knew you were a dog. On the new targeted Internet, they now know what kind of dog you are, your favorite leash color, the last time you had fleas and the date you were neutered.