Do not Track versus Do not Target

A recent post on the InfoLawGroup blog and my recent reading of Ryan Calo’s paper on privacy harm had me thinking.

The disconnect between the government and industry is that industry wants to prevent objective harm, the actual use of the information, and the government seems to want to protect against subjective harm, the knowledge that you are being observed. It would seem, on first blush, that industry doesn’t really get much by making this argument. However, even if they don’t target someone for specific ads, they can still get information about demographics of the audience for more broad based targeting.

The government’s argument should be about the potential for chilling effect on people if they are aware they are being tracked (though not targeted). Though it would be interesting for someone to do an empirical study on this, if one has not already been done.