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Surprising Science

Time to Curb Creepy Ads

Legislation that papers over creepy online advertisements might make the problem less visible, but it won’t make our privacy foundations solid.

This week’s Privacy Bill of Rights hearing and headlines are proof that the time has finally come to address consumer privacy. Unfortunately, the action thus far is not nearly enough. It may be tempting to say that the devil is in the details of the various bills, but the problem here isn’t even in the details: it is that regulators and others are focusing on the symptoms rather than the ultimate causes of our failing online privacy. Creepy behavioral advertising is the most visible symptom of our privacy-deficient society, but…the real problem is that there is such a marketplace in personal information at all.

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