April 1, 2020
Should online tracking and microtargeting be banned? | FT

Should online tracking and microtargeting be banned? | FT

There’s a lot of talk these
days about the effects of money in politics, in the US,
in Europe and elsewhere. Looking at the US
historically, the rich have always exerted
power top down. They could buy the media,
as Rupert Murdoch has. You could buy politicians and
purchase influence in that way. But these days with the tech
titans of Silicon Valley there’s a new way
of exerting power. And that’s the
bottom up way that is part and parcel of their
business model of surveillance capitalism. The business model of
micro-targeted advertising, and the way in which tech firms
follow us around the internet, and increasingly offline
via GPS and our handsets, and use that to build a sort
of a voodoo doll profile of us, which can then be sold to
advertisers and the highest bidders, companies
and public entities, that is really a
different kind of power. It allows tech firms to divide
and conquer us in new ways. And in some ways
that’s really what worries people about
money in politics now. It’s not so much
that Mark Zuckerberg is having secret meetings
with Donald Trump. It’s that Facebook
itself can target us, as consumers or
even as citizens, at a very individual level. That’s something
that’s quite different. And that’s also something
that antitrust policy is not really equipped to address. I used to think it
was radical, the idea of possibly banning
micro-targeting or limiting surveillance capitalism. But I’m beginning
to think that it may be one of the
most important levers that we have in
controlling monopoly power and the partisan
politics that we have today.

4 thoughts on “Should online tracking and microtargeting be banned? | FT

  1. There's an "option" not to share for individuals, isn't it? Thinking of "banning"? seems very conflicting, isn't it? These data can be "vital" for "terrorism", "health", "environment" etc, can't they?

  2. Honesty, I don't care since I know I'm being tracked. I'd rather see ads that I'm interested in. It's also possible to create multiple online identities and use a VPN to avoid tracking.

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