Opt-in dystopias 1. Nicklas Lundblad e Betsy Masiello

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1 Argomnti Opt-in dystopias 1 Nicklas Lundblad Btsy Masillo Sintsi La librtà di sclta dll utnt è ( dv rimanr) un principio cardin indiscutibil. Ai consumatori va dunqu smpr garantito, anch nll ambint virtual, il controllo sulla raccolta l utilizzo di loro dati prsonali. È, invc, sull modalità di implmntazion pratica di qusta Grundnorm rlativa alla tutla dlla privacy onlin ch il pur vivac d accso dibattito, sclrotizzatosi ormai da troppo tmpo sulla dicotomia un po grossolana molto idologica tra sistmi di opt-in opt-out, non è stato ancora in grado di fornir soluzioni conclusiv appropriat. A prima vista, in fftti, l opt-in potrbb smbrar smpr la soluzion miglior più garantista a tutla di consumatori di loro dati prsonali; tuttavia, a un sam più approfondito soprattutto nl passar dalla toria alla pratica, risulta chiaro ch il suo utilizzo gnralizzato ni divrsi contsti rlativi alla raccolta dll informazioni onlin può provocar una sri di fastidiosi fftti collatrali non garantndo in concrto un fficac tutla dlla privacy. Insistr dunqu, con un approccio smplicistico, sull opt-in qual unico modllo possibil rischia di rivlarsi in dfinitiva addirittura controproducnt pr gli stssi intrssi di consumatori, s solo si considra ch la raccolta di dati onlin può avr carattristich molto divrs a sconda dll fattispci ch gli stssi conctti di idntificabilità anonimato sono rlativi, vanno contstualizzati non possono ssr smpr gli stssi pr i social ntwork, l onlin advrtising, i motori di ricrca i srvizi di accsso a Intrnt. È in tal ottica ch si inquadra il contributo fornito da qusto articolo i cui autori, pur riconoscndo ch sistono ancora contsti spcifici ov, considrata la particolar snsibilità di dati, l opt-in continua a ssr probabilmnt il modllo ottimal, allo stsso tmpo avanzano una sri di convincnti argomntazioni in favor di sistmi di opt-out progttati in modo da consntir contrattazioni riptut tra utnti fornitori di srvizi, in quanto tali, in grado di ssr rivist prfzionat succssivamnt nl corso dl tmpo. Qullo ch si può notar, infatti, nlla prassi è ch raramnt l opt-in vin prsntato com sclta isolata; al contrario molto più spsso, splicitandosi nlla rgistrazion di un account, l opt-in vin, invc, insrito in un ngozio strutturato, un vro proprio contratto ch copr l utilizzo di un srvizio pr un crto L articolo original è apparso su SCRIPTd, volum 7, pubblicazion 1, april Nicklas Lundblad Stockholm Chambr of Commrc Btsy Masillo Googl Inc. Sintsi a cura di Marco Pirani Altroconsumo Associazion Indipndnt di Consumatori Th viws in this papr rflct thos of th authors alon and do not in any way rprsnt thos of thir mployr. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

2 lasso tmporal con la consgunza, ngativa pr l utnt, ch ciò non consnt alcuna ultrior trattativa con il fornitor dl srvizio. Dopo l opting-in l utnt è in grado di ffttuar una valutazion dl srvizio stsso, ma a qul punto avrà già compltato la ngoziazion. Avndo già acquisito l obbligatorio consnso opt-in, il providr non avrà così alcun incntivo pr consntir agli utnti di ringoziar l propri sclt. L opt-in rischia, dunqu, di ingabbiar l utnt in una sclta non riptibil, x ant, limitata, ch si applica pr tutta la durata dl contratto di srvizio, comportando ffttivi rischi pr la sua privacy nl mdiolungo trmin. A bn vdr i modlli di opt-in hanno, inoltr, l fftto di crar una struttura a duplic costo pr l utnt al qual si richid contstualmnt di prndr du dcisioni, con la prima s valga la pna di impigar dl tmpo pr valutar l opportunità di acconsntir all utilizzo di propri dati prsonali, con la sconda s il srvizio al qual si sta dando adsion è sufficintmnt intrssant da giustificar l opt-in. Qusta struttura, assnt nl modllo opt-out, ha l fftto di imporr all utnt sclt mno informat: la dcision inizial di acconsntir all opt-in è, infatti, ffttuata snza potr avr un adguata conoscnza dl valor ch il srvizio offr. Al contrario, un modllo opt-out ch vnga continuamnt ringoziato con il fornitor dl srvizio prmtt all utnt di avr più ampi informazioni circa il valor dl srvizio stsso, prmttndogli di assumr una dcision consapvol. Qual consgunza dll aumnto di costi di transazion associati all optin si può gnrar un ultrior fftto collatral ngativo drivant dal fatto ch i fornitori di srvizi sono naturalmnt portati a minimizzar il numro di volt in cui il consnso opt-in è richisto, in qusi casi, a massimizzar la raccolta di dati. In sostanza, una volta ch un utnt acconsnt alla raccolta di suoi dati, prché mai non s n dovrbbro raccoglir il maggior numro possibil? Si considri, poi, ch l utilizzo gnralizzato dl mtodo opt-in può condurr a consistnti fftti di dsnsibilizzazion ngli utnti ch, chiamati a sprimr il loro consnso, rischirbbro di finir pr fornirlo in modo quasi automatico snza soffrmarsi sul suo significato. Si pnsi, mutatis mutandis, a quanto avvin pr smpio ni c.d. contratti click-wrap ch, s non vngono sistmaticamnt ignorati, sono almno raramnt conclusi con un consnso pino consapvol. Infin, il consistnt aumnto di costi di switching consgunti alla massimizzazion dl modllo di opt-in potrbb indurr la prolifrazion di walld gardn con fftti ngativi pr la concorrnza il valor trasfrito ai consumatori. Com è noto, infatti, un crto livllo di raccolta di dati è ncssario pr far funzionar molti di srvizi wb attualmnt più popolari ch richidono la rgistrazion dll account, quali pr smpio i social ntwork. S qusti srvizi rimangono aprti basati sull opt-out, vi sono incntivi prché agli utnti sia fornita la miglior sprinza possibil, altrimnti portrbbro l loro informazioni su altri siti. Quando, invc, sono numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato 127

3 chiusi basati sul mtodo opt-in, aumnta il rischio dl fnomno lock-in attravrso il qual i providr rndono difficil agli utnti ffttuar uno switching vrso altri srvizi analoghi. Introduction A consumr s right to privacy onlin is onc again a focus in policy circls and a critical y is turnd to data collction as it occurs to provision advrtising srvics, social ntworking srvics, sarch ngins and vn Intrnt srvic itslf. In th rsulting discussion, on opinion is rlativly undisputd: consumrs should hav choic and control ovr th collction and us of thir prsonal data. Whr discussion divrgs into hatd dbat is in th us of rhtorical trms that simplify th discussion into on of black and whits, whn rally thr ar a rang of practics and solutions that dsrv inspction. This papr will touch on a numbr of ths rhtorical simplifications but will focus on th opt-in/opt-out dichotomy. Opt-in appars to b th optimal solution for anyon who blivs consumrs should hav choic and control ovr thir prsonal data collction. Howvr, upon closr xamination, it bcoms clar that opt-in is a rhtorical straw-man that cannot rally b implmntd by rgulatory policis without crating a numbr of unintndd sid ffcts, many of which ar suboptimal for individual privacy. 2 Idntity onlin is complx Privacy cannot b adquatly discussd without th contxt of idntity. It is far too asy to discuss privacy in a black and whit arna of anonymous vrsus prsonally idntifiabl information - th conclusion bing of cours that anonymous information poss no privacy risk whras prsonally idntifiabl information dos. Scholars hav xamind th failings of attmpts to absolutly anonymis information such that it is anonymous to vryon. It ought to b clar to all of us that achiving absolut anonymity is impossibl, which w all will quickly rcognis is also tru in th ral world. Paul Ohm has clarly articulatd how rgulatory policis groundd in th rhtoric of prsonally idntifiabl and anonymous will largly not achiv thir aims. W will not rvisit this point Th history of th opt-in/opt-out dichotomy is rich. Arguably, th first wav of this dbat concrnd spam. This ld to xtnsiv lgislation in th Europan Union. In th Dirctiv 2000/31/EC of th Europan Parliamnt and of th Council of 8 Jun 2000 on crtain lgal aspcts of information socity srvics, in particular lctronic commrc, in th Intrnal Markt ( Dirctiv on lctronic commrc ) th solution arrivd at was constructd around opt-out rgistrs. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

4 closly hr, xcpt to suggst that discussions of idntifiability and anonymity start with th qustion, anonymous to whom? 3 W ar intrstd in xploring th varity of contxtual anonymity that occurs onlin and to which a binary choic of opt-in or opt-out policis ar applid. Th spctrum rangs from contxtually anonymous to absolutly idntifiabl with varying dgrs of idntifiability in th middl. 4 As a first xampl, considr third party advrtising ntworks that dploy anonymous cookis to rcognis browsrs across th wb. Many of ths oprat th ad ntwork in a stat of contxtual anonymity: byond th random numbr stord in th cooki that nabls rcognition of a browsr with som crtainty, ths ad ntworks do not know anything ls about a cooki. Thy do not track alongsid that cooki idntifir any nams, addrsss, transaction historis, crdit card numbrs - anything, othr than th ads srvd to that browsr, thos ads th browsr clickd on, and th IP addrss; all thr of which ar pics of information rquird to prvnt fraud and abus of th ad systm. Contrast this against an ad ntwork that stors an advrtising cooki alongsid authnticatd account information, linking ads srvd and clickd-on to an mail addrss and all account bhaviour associatd with it. This might includ mail history, but it also might includ blog activity, chat activity, purchas history, vido viwing history, and th list continus. W can vn imagin that th ad ntwork might provid an addd-valu srvic to its advrtisrs, whr th mail addrss is usd to link an advrtising cooki to rgistration information from anothr sit. Considr th hypothtical of a car company that uss mail addrsss of its customrs to link thm to cookis on an ad ntwork and thn srvs customisd ads basd on known information about ach customr, prhaps somthing as prsonal as a crdit scor that would nabl pric discrimination on loans. Givn ths two xampls, can w in good conscinc apply th sam policy framwork to all third party advrtising cookis? Th first qustion should b, to whom is th information collctd anonymous and what policis ar in plac to guarant its anonymity in that contxt? It would mak sns to apply a highr burdn of choic to information that is intndd to b lss anonymous to th collctor than to information guarantd to b anonymous to th collctor by wlldfind policis and procdurs. 5 It must b notd in both xampls abov, th 3 This assumption, that idntifiability and anonymity ar rlational concpts is an ssntial assumption for working with tchnologis that protct privacy. It is also usful to notic that total anonymity is not synonymous with privacy. In fact, anonymity that cannot b liftd or controlld is svrly limiting to th individual. Our socity is built on social contxt that prsupposs th ability to shift btwn idntity, psudonymity and anonymity. It is also important to not that ths concpts ar culturally situatd. S.g. R. Rodrigus, Digital Idntity, Anonymity and Psudonymity in India (August 2007) availabl at SSRN (accssd 22 Fb 2010). 4 For mor on this concptual structur and a diffrnt modl, s G. Marx, What s in a Concpt? Som Rflctions on th Complications and Complxitis of Prsonal Information and Anonymity (2006) 3, Univrsity of Ottawa Law & Tchnology Journal This ida is mirrord in th Articl 29 Working Party s writings on th concpt of prsonal data. Originally th concpt of prsonal data was dfind as any pic of data that could b connctd with a natural living prson, but in analysing this th WP qualifid this dfinition in a numbr of ways, looking on th fasibility, costs and othr factors prtaining to th linking of data to th individual. S Opinion No 4/2007 on th concpt of prsonal data, Working Party Articl 29, availabl at (accssd 22 Fb 2010). numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato 129

5 advrtising ntwork could b srving contxtual or bhavioural advrtismnts, ithr of which could targt with varying dgrs of crtainty dmographic indicators and past bhaviour. 6 A third xampl of data collction and us furthr complicats th policy landscap. Social ntworking sits hav xplodd in rcnt yars and along with thm information about individual usrs. 7 Non of this information can b said to b anonymous, in fact it might b said to hav th strongst idntifiability of any onlin information by virtu of having mbddd an idntity into a social ntwork. 8 Th contxt of this information us is also ntirly diffrnt: social ntworking sits ar not just collcting information from a usr and using that information to targt an advrtismnt or provid a gnric srvic. Ths sits by dfinition nabl information about an individual to b mad availabl to othr usrs with as. Th first privacy qustions w ask ar idntical to thos askd of advrtising ntworks: to whom is th information collctd anonymous, and what dgr of customisd srvics is providd? But an additional st of privacy qustions is raisd by ths srvics: how availabl is th information to which othr usrs? W hav now idntifid at last thr sparat contxts in which individual privacy must b considrd: th contxtual anonymity of information collctd by a srvic providr or wbsit; th dgr of customisation information is usd to provid; th availability of information to othr usrs. Th rhtoric w ar studying in this papr applis th sam policy choic to all thr contxts: opt-in, or opt-out. To s th full implications of this approach, w must undrstand what w man by opt-in and opt-out. What do w man by opt-in? Loosly, opt-in is intndd as a proxy for gaining affirmativ consnt prior to th collction or us of information, whil opt-out is thought of as a proxy for collcting information without gaining prior consnt. W will find that this simplification glosss ovr important distinctions btwn th contxts of informa By this w man th bhaviour of th st of tchnical indicators is usd to build a matching pattrn. It is oftn assumd that advrtising builds on individual bhaviour. In fact th link btwn th individual and th bhaviour bing usd to targt advrtising is always mdiatd. 7 S for xampl Adults on Social Ntwork Sits, , Pw Intrnt & Amrican Lif Projct, availabl at SNS-Us aspx (accssd 22 Fb 2010). 8 S G. Hull, H.R., Lipford and C. Latulip, Contxtual Gaps: Privacy Issus on Facbook (29 Jun 2009) availabl at SSRN (accssd 22 Fb 2010). Cf JTL Grimmlmann, Saving Facbook (2009) 94 Iowa Law Rviw, pp (arguing for a right to opt out of social ntworks). numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

6 tion collction, as wll as critical subtl tchnical diffrncs btwn th ways information can b collctd. In th strictst intrprtation, opt-in consnt would imply that a usr has affirmativly agrd to th disclosur and us of his information in vry instanc. W might thrfor dfin strong opt-in as a procss by which a uniquly idntifid individual s informd and rational consnt is documntd by a srvic providr or third party. In contrast, a loos intrprtation of opt-in consnt would rfr to a singl click that implis consnt on bhalf of all usrs of a particular browsr. W might thn dfin wak opt-in as a procss by which a non-idntifiabl browsr usr prforms a squnc of intractions considrd to constitut opting-in, which is rcordd by th srvic providr. A wak opt-in is distinguishd from an opt-out basd on th squnc of intractions. Such an opt-in would rquir activly prforming th opt-in intraction prior to xcuting any othr functionality of th product. A common criticism of opt-in is that it imposs xcssiv costs on th usr. For som of th contxts w hav laid out abov, this is undoubtdly tru. Tak cooki-basd information collction which can b guarantd as anonymous to th collctor through a rigorous st of policis and limitations on linking information across data stors. Imposing opt-in as it is loosly intrprtd would prsumably rquir that at vry initial intraction with a sit whr a cooki is st th usr is askd for consnt to collct information about his or hr bhaviour on that sit. In th strictst intrprtation, opt-in would rquir asking th usr for affirmativ consnt at vry instanc in which information is collctd and rcordd by th sit. Sinc many wbsits montis thir srvics by lvraging a varity of advrtising and analytics providrs, this might man a usr is promptd with tns of rqusts for consnt at any givn wbsit. In th loos intrprtation of opt-in, w could imagin that upon first sing a cooki this consnt is rqustd and a prfrnc subsquntly rmmbrd so that in futur visits th consnt is rmmbrd. Arguably, this is how cookis work. A usr can st a prfrnc in thir browsr to b promptd bfor any cooki is st and onc accptd a cooki has th ffct of rmmbring th usr s consnt until it is dltd. Privacy-snsitiv and tchnically-knowldgabl usrs will oftn st thir browsr prfrncs to rst cookis at som frquncy, prhaps vry tim th browsr is closd, or prhaps vry wk. In ithr cas, th mmory of a consnt givn, or not givn, would b forgottn and th usr would b promptd continuously to giv consnt to information collction. Imagin th cost imposd on th usr: th numbr of consnt-boxs on would nd to click through to rach th dstination pag. 9 As 9 And arguably th tim to valuat th policis consntd to. It is not only a qustion of clicking: informd clicking rquirs analysis as wll. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato 131

7 a rsult, cooki-basd information collction is oftn undrstood to b opt-out: a usr can dclin cookis or rst thm but th typical dfault action of most browsrs is to accpt cookis and nabl this information collction. Bcaus th costs of rqusting prfrncs during ach intraction gt high so quickly, many sits will ask a usr to rgistr in ordr to rmmbr thir prfrncs. Upon rgistration, a usr might b promptd to chck, or unchck, boxs that dscrib a varity of information collction that th wbsit may mploy. Authnticatd srvics such as mail providrs and social ntworking sits bnfit from rquiring som form of rgistration to us th srvic at all, during which tim prfrncs can b rqustd up-front. This initial rgistration can b usd to gain a on-tim, loos but prsistnt opt-in consnt to information collction and us, at low cost to th usr, and thortically with th usr s affirmativ consnt. As w will argu howvr, th countr-intuitiv rsult of this procss of gaining opt-in consnt prsnts high costs to a usr s individual privacy vn though th transaction costs ar managabl. Dal or no dal? 132 In xamining th traditional and last burdnsom way opt-in is implmntd, through account rgistration, w find that this implmntation dos not match up with th gnrally-accptd xpctation that consumrs hav choic and control ovr collction and us of thir information. Th act of agring to a st of trms associatd with account cration, of which on may b a chckbox consnting to information collction, is a much mor multifactd dcision than simply choosing to hav your information collctd. Usrs ar wighing th many risks and bnfits of dciding whthr to nrol in a srvic. W should think of this as accpting a dal in totality. If w mov from looking at consnt to looking at what mor rsmbls a contract w s that svral factors chang in th discussion about opt-in and optout. In fact, it could b argud that th fram of opt-in and opt-out is a stymid vrsion of th much mor complx and multi-factd contractual procss. This diffrnc is subtl but important and is asily illustratd through an xampl. Suppos you ar askd to participat in a survy during which information about your idntity will b collctd along with your opinion on a rang of products. If this is all you ar askd and you agr to participat, you can b said to hav affirmativly consntd in th strictst sns to information collction. If, howvr, participating in th survy will rsult in your obtaining a gift card to your favourit café or bookstor, th dcision to participat is a wakr form of consnt: it is accpting a dal or a contract. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

8 It is rarly th cas that a dcision to opt-in to information collction is an isolatd choic - it is instad a choic mbddd in a structurd ngotiation. This ngotiation is akin to a rpatd gam: a contract is agrd to that covrs a us of a srvic for som tim to com. This ought to volv into an ongoing ngotiation and gam of rpatd trust btwn th srvic providr and th usr. But what w obsrv in account-basd opt-in dcisions is a on-tim x-ant limitd choic which applis ovr th liftim of a srvic contract. This actually risks th usr s privacy ovr th long trm bcaus th dal rquirs no furthr ngotiation on th part of th srvic providr. Th rduction of usr choic to opting in or opting out also liminats any innovation on th part of usr or srvic providr in constructing nw dals and ngotiating uniqu balancs. By fixing on condition in th contract, th lgislator would svrly b limiting th ability of mor privacy savvy actors to ngotiat nw balancs and favour with which to compt. Th incntivs of th srvic providr in this scnario ar not in favour of privacy. Having obtaind a usr s opt-in upon account rgistration, oftn as a prrquisit for that rgistration, dos a srvic providr hav any incntiv to vr prompt th usr to rvisit this choic or innovat whn it coms to th dsign of this choic? It is also important to xamin th usr s ability to mak an informd choic in this scnario. Having not yt usd th srvic, th usr is askd to chck a box that indicats his or hr consnt to a varity of information collction. How much trust has h or sh built in this srvic at this point? Prsumably non, othr than possibly having hard of th srvic s rputation: th usr has not had any dirct xprinc of th srvic. How can th usr b xpctd to mak an informd choic about this srvic s collction and us of his or hr information? Th unintndd consquncs Exclusion and social wlfar ffcts Opt-in has th ffct of crating a dual cost structur which in th cas of xtrmly privacy snsitiv intractions may b justifid but w should b wary of which contxts this dual cost structur is imposd. Unlik opt-out, an opt-in policy rquirs that a usr mak two dcisions: first, a usr must dcid if it is worth th tim to valuat th dcision to opt-in; and, scond, a usr must thn mak th actual valuation of whthr th srvic is valuabl nough to justify th opt-in. 10 This dual cost structur is absnt from th opt-out modl, and has 10 That this lads to sub-optimisation of wlfar ffcts is known. S H.A. Dgrys and J. Bouckart Opt In vrsus Opt Out: A Fr-Entry Analysis of Privacy Policis (Spt 2006), CESifo, Working Papr Sris, n. 1831; CntER, Discussion Papr, n , availabl at SSRN (accssd 22 Fb 2010). Dgrys and Bouckart not that only whn costs ar zro for opting in (assuming that consumrs and usrs do not rad opt-in information, nor ar rquird to do anything to opt in) dos it coincid with opt-out. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato 133

9 th ffct of imposing a cost on th initial rcognition of a grat opportunity or srvic. 11 Th dcisions a usr maks undr an opt-in modl ar lss informd bcaus of this dual cost structur. Th initial dcision to opt-in to a srvic is mad without any knowldg of what valu that srvic provids - undr an opt-in rgim a dcision can probably nvr b wholly informd. An opt-out dcision that is continuously rngotiatd with th srvic providr givs th usr ampl information about th valu of th srvic to mak an informd dcision just onc. Not that rngotiation idally allows for dltion or xport of th information alrady collctd, as fasibl. As a rsult of this dual cost structur, w can xpct that opt-in policis may hav as an unintndd consqunc th ffct of rinforcing xclusionary ffcts on lss tchnology-litrat groups. 12 A usr with lss tchnology xprinc whn askd to valuat a srvic will naturally and unavoidably fac a highr cost in making that valuation than a mor tchnologically knowldgabl usr. This mans that many usrs who would othrwis hav bnfitd from using srvics that collct information may b dtrrd simply by a subjctiv fling or inability to valuat th initial costs of th offr as it stands. Thr is a rlatd harm that may rsult from opt-in: missd opportunitis to improv social wlfar. Economists hav thorisd that opt-in rgims do not maximis social wlfar bcaus thy discourag participation that could lad to incrasd conomic valu and activity. On xampl w s of this today is th us of aggrgat anonymous information to study social bhaviour at a prviously unhard of scal. Googl s Flu Trnds is on such xampl of how aggrgat data can maximis social wlfar. 13 If usrs sarching th Wb wr rquird to opt-in to th collction of thir sarch trms, w might xpct that significantly fwr trms would b collctd du to th incrasd cost imposd on th usr and th ability to undrstand maningful trnds in th data might dissipat. Ths harmful ffcts ar a consqunc of th structural dfinition of opt-in. If instad of thinking about privacy dcisions as rquiring x-ant consnt, w thought about systms that structurd an ongoing contractual ngotiation btwn th usr and srvic providr, w might mitigat som of ths harmful ffcts Th transaction costs thus imposd ar significant. S L.F. Cranor with A. McDonald, Th Cost of Rading Privacy Policis (2008) 4 I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for th Information Socity (2008 Privacy Yar in Rviw issu). 12 For usrs who hav clar policis, opt-in or opt-out may actually mak no diffrnc at all according to on arly study: S. Bllman, E.J. Johnson and G Lohs, To Opt-In or Opt-Out? It Dpnds on th Qustion (2001) 44 Communications of th ACM Availabl at SSRN com/abstract= (accssd 22 Fbruary 2010). 13 Flu Trnds lvrags aggrgat sarch qury data to stimat flu outbraks ahad of traditional monitoring systms, providing a typ of arly warning systm. S J. Ginsbrg t al, Dtcting influnza pidmics using sarch ngin qury data (2008) 457 Natur Magazin For additional xampls, s Choi and Varian, Prdicting th Prsnt with Googl Trnds (2009) availabl at (accssd 22 Fb 2010). Studis on th quality of mass-markt contract trms indicat that th quality of trms in rgims whr thr is a duty to disclos trms bforhand lad to lowr quality contracts. S Y. K. Ch and A. H. Choi, Shrink-Wraps: Who Should Bar th Cost of Communicating Mass-Markt Contract Trms? (1 Oct 2009), Virginia Law and Economics Rsarch Papr n , availabl at SSRN com/abstract= (accssd 22 Fb 2010). On possibl rason for this is that bing forcd to disclos trms bfor hand crats an incntiv to b vagu and circumspct. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

10 Excssiv scop Anothr challng with opt-in rgims is that thy, by thir vry natur, ar invasiv and costly for th usr and can ncourag srvic providrs to minimis th numbr of tims opt-in is rqustd. This can hav at last two advrs ffcts. Th first is that srvic providrs may attmpt to maximis data collction in vry instanc that thy ar forcd to us an opt-in framwork; onc a usr consnts to data collction, why not collct as much as possibl? And th incrasd transaction costs associatd with opt-in will lad srvic providrs to minimis th numbr of tims thy rqust opt-in consnt. In combination ths two bhaviours ar likly to lad to an xcssiv scop for opt-in agrmnts. In turn, usrs will fac mor complx dcisions as thy dcid whthr or not to participat. Th only possibl limiting factor is th point at which larg losss in participation occur; in othr words, th bundl siz will incras to th limit of what usrs can maximally tolrat. Strict opt-in rgims would hav a largr ffct sinc thy would xhibit highr costs, but vn in loos opt-in rgims that minimis th rptitiv natur of th opt-in procss would lad to bundl siz incrass. It is also likly that not only will th scop incras but th natur of th opt-in askd for will b mor complx. Th dpth of th opt-in, if you will, will incras. In addition to asking for a widr spctrum of information, th conditions for using this information ar likly to b mor complx. And th framing of th opt-in will ncssarily hav to b dsignd as to ncourag opt-in. 14 As this happns w ar likly to s dmand ris for singl idntity systms. It is valuabl to xamin what th possibl outcoms of applying mandatory opt-in policis to, for xampl, advrtising ar. It is possibl that mrging social wb srvics could comply by stting up th opt-in as a part of th account rgistration procss, as discussd arlir. Usrs hav an incntiv to opt-in bcaus thy want to valuat th srvic; aftr opting-in, a usr is abl to mak an valuation of th srvic, but by that point has alrady compltd th ngotiation. Th srvic, having alrady acquird th mandatory opt-in consnt, has no incntiv to nabl usrs to rngotiat thir choic. Th data collction in this instanc would all b tid to a cntral idntity and would b likly to hav xcssiv scop and dp us conditions. On unintndd consqunc of a mandatory opt-in rgim might b th mrgnc of tthrd idntitis, whrby a usr s idntity is tightly coupld with a particular social platform or srvic. In th long run a shift to accss-tthrd idntitis would b probabl as wll. Intrnt accss would b a grat point at which to scur 14 Flu Trnds lvrags aggrgat sarch qury data to stimat flu outbraks ahad of traditional monitoring systms, providing a typ of arly warning systm. S J. Ginsbrg t al., Dtcting influnza pidmics using sarch ngin qury data (2008) 457 Natur Magazin For additional xampls, s Choi and Varian, Prdicting th Prsnt with Googl Trnds (2009) availabl at (accssd 22 Fb 2010). 13 Studis on th quality of mass-markt contract trms indicat that th quality of trms in rgims whr thr is a duty to disclos trms bforhand lad to lowr quality contracts. S Y. K. Ch and A. H. Choi, Shrink-Wraps: Who Should Bar th Cost of Communicating Mass-Markt Contract Trms? (1 Oct 2009), Virginia Law and Economics Rsarch Papr n , availabl at SSRN com/abstract= (accssd 22 Fb 2010). On possibl rason for this is that bing forcd to disclos trms bfor hand crats an incntiv to b vagu and circumspct. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato 135

11 opt-in for fdratd srvics as this would condition accss on accpting data collction. From a privacy point of viw, tthrd idntitis prsnt many challngs. Th concpt suggsts that all bhaviour is tid to a singl ntry in a databas. Th as of xcuting an ovrly broad law nforcmnt rqust would b far gratr than in a rgim of fragmntd and unauthnticatd data collction. Th dgr of bhaviour upon which an advrtismnt might b targtd would also b far gratr. And th thrat of xposur posd by a scurity brach would also incras. In th worst cas, growing bundl-siz and scop crp would rsult in information architcturs that ar dply privacy snsitiv and vulnrabl. Dsnsitisation 136 A rlatd but somwhat diffrnt problm is that opt-in rgims might lad to dsnsitisation ffcts. To undrstand ths ffcts w nd only look to th xampl of click-wrap contracts which ar if not routinly ignord ar at last sldom ntrd into with full and informd consnt. Click-wrap contracts njoy an intrfac that is standardisd across many lmnts. It sms likly that most usrs could click thir way through installing softwar, for xampl, vn in a forign languag. A similar outcom might b xpctd in an optin privacy rgim: it is not hard to imagin th intrfac for consnting to gnric data collction agrmnts bing standardisd, and som scholars alrady suggst that standard intrfacs would simplify privacy dcisions for th usr. Might it also b asy to click through standard opt-in agrmnts, vn if writtn in a forign languag? Th convrgnc of procss and possibly contnt in opt-in rgims crats anothr dangr: that of scop crp. Onc consumrs ar dsnsitisd to opt-in rqusts and th squnc of intractions rquird to constitut opting-in, th actual scop can start growing without much awarnss on th part of th usr. Thrfor bundl sizs could b xpctd to grow ovr tim. Whil w hav not xamind this w would hazard a guss that this has happnd with click-wrap contracts ovr tim, and that th avrag siz of click-wrap contracts in, for xampl, World of Warcraft hav incrasd significantly with tim. Yt anothr consqunc of dsnsitisation might b modification of th optin agrmnt aftr th original choic. Firms would hav incntivs to dsign frindly opt-in agrmnts until a substantiv usr bas had bn acquird, at which point a chang in th policy would b a risk, but on worth taking. Prhaps all th usrs might fl from th srvic but th potntial upsid of incrasd data collction would rsult from indiffrnc to or ignoranc of th policy chang. Crdit card agrmnts offr an xampl of policy indiffrnc in action. Onc a consumr has stablishd a crdit rlationship with a providr, is h likly to rad lngthy modifications to his contract that arriv in th mail? numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

12 Balkanisation A worst-cas consqunc of widsprad opt-in modls would b th balkanisation of th wb. As alrady discussd, som dgr of data collction is ncssary to run many of today s lading wb srvics. Thos that rquir account rgistration, such as social wb srvics, njoy an asy mchanism for scuring opt-in consnt and would b likly to bnfit disproportionatly from a mandatory opt-in policy. If w bliv that mandatory opt-in policis would disproportionatly bnfit authnticatd srvics, w might also xpct balkanisation of ths srvics to occur. Whn information srvics ar opn and basd on opt-out, thr ar incntivs to provid usrs th bst xprinc possibl or thy will tak thir information lswhr. Whn ths srvics ar closd and basd on opt-in, thr ar incntivs to induc lock-in to prvnt usrs from switching srvics. Usrs might b rluctant to lav a srvic thy hav valuatd and invstd in; th mor invstmnt mad th mor likly a usr is to stay with th currnt providr. W might xpct mobility to dcras, with ngativ ffcts for comptition and consumr valu. Data portability can hav a trmndous positiv impact hr, sinc it rducs th costs imposd on th usr of switching srvics. 15 Thr may also b broadr social consquncs causd by this balkanisation. Rsarch suggsts that usrs will migrat to th social srvics that thir frinds us and that this can lad to socioconomic divids by srvic. 16 Contnt providrs hav a long history of using pric discrimination and bundling to cross-subsidis th cration of diffrnt typs of contnt. 17 W might considr how ths businss stratgis would b xcutd in a world whr usrs hav slfslctd thmslvs into wlldfind communitis of similar conomic standing and political laning. Th consquncs may b grav. Rsarch has shown, for xampl, that groups of likmindd popl discussing divisiv topics will arriv at mor xtrm viws than groups of popl with divrs viws. 18 If opt-in wr to motivat th incrasd us of social ntworks for contnt distribution, socity may bcom mor xtrm and lss likly to rach community-basd solutions to socital problms calmly. 15 S th Googl Data Libration Front as on xampl of data portability in practic. Availabl at (accssd 22 Fb 2010). 16 S D. Boyd, Takn out of Contxt: Amrican Tn Sociality in Ntworkd Publics (2008) (PhD Dissrtation submittd at th Univrsity of California, Brkly) availabl at (accssd 22 Fb 2010). 17 S H Varian, Information Ruls (Boston: HBS Prss, 1999), at ch S C. Sunstin, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produc Knowldg (Oxford: OUP, 2008), at Sunstin discusss th surprising failurs of dlibrating groups and shows how ths ffcts can lad to unwantd outcoms. numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato 137

13 Conclusion W hav argud that mandatory opt-in applid across contxts of information collction is poisd to hav svral unintndd consquncs on social wlfar and individual privacy: dual cost structur: opt-in is ncssarily a partially informd dcision bcaus usrs lack xprinc with th srvic and valu it provids until aftr optingin; potntial costs of th opt-in dcision loom largr than potntial bnfits, whras potntial bnfits of th opt-out dcision loom largr than potntial costs; xcssiv scop: undr an opt-in rgim, th providr has an incntiv to xaggrat th scop of what h asks for, whil undr th opt-out rgim th providr has an incntiv to allow for fatur-by-fatur opt-out; dsnsitisation: if vryon rquirs opt-in to us srvics, usrs will b dsnsitisd to th choic, rsulting in automatic opt-in; balkanisation: th incras in switching costs prsntd by opt-in dcisions is likly to lad to prolifration of walld gardns. W hav laid th initial foundation for thinking about opt-out rgims as rpatd ngotiations btwn usrs and srvic providrs. This framwork may suggst implmntations of opt-out b dsignd to allow for ths rpatd ngotiations and vn optimis for thm. W rcognis that thr may b contxts in which mandatory opt-in is th optimal policy for individual privacy as, for xampl, whn th information in qustion is particularly snsitiv. In subsqunt work, th authors intnd to propos a framwork in which opt-out crats not only a viabl but in many cass an optimal architctur for privacy onlin and to xplor th contxts in which implmnting opt-in is th optimal privacy architctur. 138 numro 3/2010 Argomnti Mrcato

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