Data Aggregators, Consumer Data, and Responsibility Online: Who is tracking consumers online and should they stop?
The goal of this paper is to examine the strategic choices of firms collecting consumer data online and to identify the roles and obligations of the actors within the current network of online tracking. In doing so, the focus shifts from placing the onus on individuals to make an informed choice to justifying the roles and responsibilities of firms when gathering, aggregating, and using consumers’ interests or behavior online. Firms online are uniquely positioned to undercut or to respect privacy expectations within three possible roles: as a member of a supply chain of information traders, within a network of surveillance online, and as an arm of law enforcement. These firms benefit from aggregating and analyzing consumer data and have an associated responsibility to not only minimize the harm to consumers but also to enact change where the firm is in the most knowledgeable and powerful position.
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