Privacy and Consumer Control

12 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2019

See all articles by Howard Beales

Howard Beales

George Washington University - School of Business

Timothy J. Muris

George Mason University, Antonin Scalia Law School

Date Written: September 6, 2019


This essay, prepared for the Aspen Institute Congressional Program on the Internet, Big Data, and Algorithms, makes three points. First, personal information about commercial transactions does not belong solely to the consumer. Approaches to privacy regulation based on property, particularly notice and choice, do not give consumers meaningful control over their information or how it is used. Second, regulating information uses based on the consequences of information use and misuse is a more productive approach, providing important protections to consumers. Third, information about users is critical in determining the value of the targeted advertising on which the financing of internet content depends, allowing consumer to receive valuable information and services without direct payment.

Keywords: tracking, cookies, advertising, Fair Information Practices, FIPs, privacy policies, data protection, transaction costs, transparency

JEL Classification: K2, K19, K23, L86

Suggested Citation

Beales, Howard and Muris, Timothy J., Privacy and Consumer Control (September 6, 2019). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 19-27 (2019), Available at SSRN: or

Howard Beales

George Washington University - School of Business ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

Timothy J. Muris (Contact Author)

George Mason University, Antonin Scalia Law School ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-9421 (Phone)
703-993-8088 (Fax)

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