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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
September 1, 2009
(202) 289-8928
Szoka Statement on Demands for Privacy Regulation
PFF Fellow Says Preemptive Regulations Would Harm Consumers

WASHINGTON D.C. - A coalition of ten organizations today demanded legislation that would restrict the collection and use of data online for customizing advertising based on Internet users' interests. 

PFF Senior Fellow Berin Szoka offered the following comments about the coalition and their proposal:

These so-called "consumer advocates" are actually anti-consumer elitists.  Not only do they presume that consumers are too stupid or lazy to make their own decisions about privacy, but they ignore the benefits to consumers: more relevant advertising plus more and better content.

Advertising has been the "mother's milk" of media in America since colonial times and the future of media depends on the ability of publishers to replicate that revenue model online.  Micropayments, donations, subscriptions alone simply can't fund a vibrant marketplace of ideas.  Only personalized advertising can sustain publishers through the Digital Revolution.   

Regulatory advocates haven't demonstrated any harm to consumers that would justify such sweeping preemptive regulation.  By strangling funding for new media, such regulations would amount to an "Industrial Policy" for the Internet.  Instead, policymakers should focus on educating consumers and empowering them by promoting development of better privacy management tools. 

Szoka is the author, along with PFF Senior Fellow Adam Thierer, of "Online Advertising & User Privacy: Principles to Guide the Debate" and "Targeted Online Advertising: What's the Harm & Where Are We Heading?"  He is available for further comment.  Please contact Amy Smorodin at

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



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