Consumer Subject Review Boards: A Thought Experiment

Ryan Calo

University of Washington - School of Law; Stanford University - Law School

September 3, 2013

66 Stanford Law Review Online 97-102 (2013)

Big data translates into a big advantage over consumers. Indeed, the challenges posed by big data to consumer protection seem to gesture beyond privacy’s foundations or buzzwords, beyond “fair information practice principles” or “privacy by design.” They may take us outside of privacy altogether into a more basic discussion of the ethics of information. The good news is that the scientific community has been heading down this road for thirty years. I explore a version of their approach here. Specifically, I offer “Consumer Subject Review Boards,” akin to science’s Institutional Review Boards, as a thought experiment. Simply applying IRB to firms would not be appropriate, but standardization and process would benefit consumer and industry both. First, a CSRB could help unearth and head off media fiascos before they materialize. Second, CSRBs could increase regulatory certainty, perhaps forming the basis for an FTC safe harbor if sufficiently robust and transparent. Third, and most importantly, CSRBs could add a measure of legitimacy to the study of consumers for profit.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 6

Keywords: research ethics, privacy, big data, consumer protection, fair trade practices

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Date posted: October 16, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Calo, Ryan, Consumer Subject Review Boards: A Thought Experiment (September 3, 2013). 66 Stanford Law Review Online 97-102 (2013). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2340745

Contact Information

Ryan Calo (Contact Author)
University of Washington - School of Law ( email )
William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

Stanford University - Law School ( email )
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
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