Balancing Consumer Privacy with Behavioral Targeting

59 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2010 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014

Date Written: April 1, 2010


Behavioral targeting is the emerging practice of collecting information about consumers’ behavior and using that information to customize an advertisement or other service for the consumer. This article first describes the practice and technology of behavioral targeting in its various forms. Second, it aims to identify how this emerging technology might benefit and harm consumers, and to understand how harms occur. Third, it overviews the FTC’s self-regulatory principles and a variety of other proposals to strengthen regulations to prevent harm to consumers and concludes that the proposed approaches do not give consumers the right information to effectively allow them to intelligently manage the risk of harm. Therefore, the article proposes a regime of broad mandatory regulation combined with an audit requirement to address the root causes of potential harm. The article argues that this approach will aid consumers in making informed decisions about their participation in activities that involve behavioral targeting.

Keywords: Behavioral Advertising, Targeting Tracking, Federal Trade Commission, Self-Regulatory Principles

Suggested Citation

Berger, Dustin D., Balancing Consumer Privacy with Behavioral Targeting (April 1, 2010). Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 27, p. 3, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Dustin D. Berger (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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