Improving Privacy Protection in the Area of Behavioural Targeting

30 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

Date Written: September 1, 2015


This is the first chapter of the book 'Improving Privacy Protection in the area of Behavioural Targeting.' The book, based on the author's PhD dissertation, discusses how European law could improve privacy protection in the area of behavioural targeting. Behavioural targeting, also referred to as online profiling, involves monitoring people’s online behaviour, and using the collected information to show people individually targeted advertisements.

To protect privacy in the area of behavioural targeting, the EU lawmaker mainly relies on the consent requirement for the use of tracking technologies in the e-Privacy Directive, and on general data protection law. With informed consent requirements, the law aims to empower people to make choices in their best interests. But behavioural studies cast doubt on the effectiveness of the empowerment approach as a privacy protection measure. Many people click “I agree” to any statement that is presented to them. Therefore, to mitigate privacy problems such as chilling effects, this study argues for a combined approach of protecting and empowering the individual. Compared to the current approach, the lawmaker should focus more on protecting people.

Keywords: privacy, data protection, behavioral advertising, behavioural targeting, profiling, cookie, e-Privacy Directive, tracking

JEL Classification: K12, K00, D10, D11, D20, D30, D40, D60, D70, L00, L11, L20, L51

Suggested Citation

Zuiderveen Borgesius, Frederik, Improving Privacy Protection in the Area of Behavioural Targeting (September 1, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius (Contact Author)

iHub, Radboud University, Nijmegen ( email )


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