Data Scams

73 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2018 Last revised: 23 Oct 2019

See all articles by Roger Allan Ford

Roger Allan Ford

University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law; Information Society Project, Yale Law School

Date Written: November 1, 2019


Targeting platforms like Google and Facebook are usually seen as presenting tradeoffs between utility and privacy. This Article identifies and describes a different, non-privacy cost of targeting platforms: they make it easier for malicious actors to scam others. They do this by making it easier for scammers to reach the most promising victims, hide from law-enforcement authorities and others, and develop better scams. Technology offers potential solutions, since the same data and targeting tools that enable scams could help detect and prevent them, though neither platforms nor law-enforcement officials have both the incentives and expertise needed to develop and deploy those solutions. Moreover, these scams may illustrate a broader class of problems from targeting that go beyond utility versus privacy, suggesting that more aggressive interventions may be needed.

Keywords: privacy, manipulation, platforms, scams

Suggested Citation

Ford, Roger Allan, Data Scams (November 1, 2019). 57 Houston Law Review 111 (2019), Available at SSRN: or

Roger Allan Ford (Contact Author)

University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law ( email )

Two White Street
Concord, NH 03301
United States

Information Society Project, Yale Law School

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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