With that perspective, she said the tick-box standard for consent and transparency might be replaced by a “data minimization approach.”
Wouldn’t the data-driven advertising industry get crushed?
Well, yes. That’s actually one of Slaughter’s explicit pros for the paradigm shift.
“If companies cannot indiscriminately collect data, advertising networks could not build microtargeting profiles. Without the monetization aspect of microtargeting, the incentive to indiscriminately collect data falls away.”
Online advertising and free, ad-supported media or services will not go away, she said. Rather, the industry will revert to a former standard. Before the rise of ad network-fueled data collection, consumers traded their attention in exchange for seeing ads. They didn’t trade their consumer data in exchange for service.
“Targeting can be done contextually, triggered by the content to which an ad is attached, or even through broad and general categories,” she said. “These types of targeting do not raise the same concerns that surveillance advertising does.”
Slaughter’s keynote came with the standard upfront advisory that the views expressed were hers alone, and not that of the FTC or any other commissioners.
No legislation or regulation in the immediate future would require a shift from notification and consent to an approach of data minimization, as she classifies it.
But it’s potentially concerning for some data-driven advertising companies that the FTC commissioner would take such a strong approach to data-driven advertising. Much of the category falls under her definition of “surveillance advertising,” or collection and use of consumer data for advertising in exchange for free content and services.
“We are all surveilled, tracked, targeted – some of our communities more than others – and too often our choices are manipulated and limited,” Slaughter said. “This is not the result of the expression of informed preferences in a well-functioning marketplace.”