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Cookie Cutters – The New Inquiry
Engaging with the advertising industry’s opt-out feature reveals troubling, dissociated entities. Unlike the kind of contract used in the Do Not Call List, the opt-out cookie is not an agreement between an end user and the advertising industry as a whole. Instead, it is between a user’s extended devices and a vast array of fragmented and dissociated technologies and organizations. This is a contract associating hundreds of cookies, inscrutable terms-of-service agreements, browsers, devices, more than 110 advertising networks, and the shifting layers of ownership as advertising firms merge and acquire one another. It is, in other words, a contract as a loose gathering of elements—two swarms—rather than as consent between two individuals.c-coverThis essay appears in TNI Vol. 26: Consent. Subscribe for $2 and get your very own

Ultimately, the online advertising industry benefits from this complexity. When it comes time for the advertising industry to consent to the user’s wish not to be watched online, the industry dissolves into a swarm. All the while, the user’s own technological dispersal allows for that contract to be undermined when that user changes any of the original conditions of consent. Once this fragile contract dissolves, tracking can recommence. Industry self-regulation becomes a joke in the face of this dissociation.
internet  advertising  privacy  surveillance  theory  philosophy  politics 
march 2014 by juliusbeezer
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