Privacy and Consumer Control


This essay, prepared for the Aspen Institute Congressional Program on the Internet, Big Data, and Algorithms, makes three points. First, personal information about commercial transactions does not belong solely to the consumer. Approaches to privacy regulation based on property, particularly notice and choice, do not give consumers meaningful control over their information or how it is used. Second, regulating information uses based on the consequences of information use and misuse is a more productive approach, providing important protections to consumers. Third, information about users is critical in determining the value of the targeted advertising on which the financing of internet content depends, allowing consumer to receive valuable information and services without direct payment.