Literature Review

Consumer Privacy and Behavior Targeting


ConsumerPrivacy and Behavior Targeting

ResearchQuestion: Whatcan adult consumers do to protect their privacy with the increasingonline market?

Apertinent issue arising in the ever-increasing technology drivenworld is the issue of consumer information and privacy. What canadult consumers do to protect their privacy with the increasingonline market? Customers can protect themselves by being carefulabout what they put online, and the way to know what they need to becareful about is to read up on the laws so they know what businessesare legally allowed or not allowed to do with their information andknow how companies use their information and what information isuseful to the companies. This White Paper seeks to explore consumerbelieves and attitudes to their personal information, the kinds ofprivacy policies that are in place now to control target marketingand safety of personal information and whether they are legallyenacted guiding us on what is legal or illegal, and what firms dowith personal information, why they want it and how they use it.


Thereare various consumer beliefs and attitudes to their personalinformation for instancePerceived benefits relateto how an individual perceives the advantages of sharing secondaryuser information has proven to positively influence users’ attitudetowards the sharing of secondary information (Iyilade, Orji, &ampVissileva, 2015). Perceived benefits in regard to the sharing ofsecondary information immensely leads to inhibited informationsharing. Perceivedrisk: itis common knowledge that an increase in individual risk perceptionleads to a decrease in probability of allowing information reuse andsharing. However, some studies have stated to the contrary, in thatthere is no significant effect of the general user decision tosupport to allow information sharing (Berger, 2011). The decision ofelder individuals is negatively affected to a large extent byperceived risk, while its influence in the younger generation isinsignificant. Control:it is widely perceived that once the user is handed control over ahost of applications that he should share data with, the type of datato be shared, the purpose of the data, and the duration of sharing,ought to increase their likelihood to share information (Berger,2011). Results by various researchers indicate that the generalattitude of the user population is greatly influenced by control.However, control is not as significant a factor in human attitude asis gaining reputation and perceived benefits. Among the youngergeneration, control is the most significant factor, whereas it isless significant among the older generation’ attitude. This isattributable to the fact that the younger generation is more techsavvy and comfortably uses privacy settings preference and policiescompared to the elderly. Gainreputation:it is almost obvious that user’s information sharing behaviorsshould almost match the users’ desire to gain reputation (, 2015). The urge for reputation surprisingly bears the greatestimportance of all the other factors affecting the attitude of usersin the overall population.Protect Reputation: thisfactor may result in either of two outcomes. Efforts to maintainreputation may lead the user to restrain information (if he/shethinks that by sharing information they will maintain a certainperceived status within the society), or sharing more information (ifthe information to be shared is deemed to be defamatory and thus mayruin the user’s societal reputation) (Berger, 2011). For theoverall population, protecting reputation positively affects userattitude. This means that the user’s interest lies in sharing moreso as to secure his/her online information.

Legislationsthat are in place or were proposed include investigating the kinds ofprivacy policies that are in place now to control target marketingand safety of personal information include NewYork Legislationproposed bill tabled in March 2008 could have greatly bolsteredprivacy protections. It blatantly prohibited marketers fromextracting “sensitive financial, medical, Social Security Numbersor sexual personally identifiable information” (Picard, 2011)during behavioral advertisements. Marketers were also compelled to“only use reliable sources to retrieve online preference marketingdata, protect the data, and impress online privacy requirements onPII recipients”. If enacted, with New York’s large population,the bill would likely have protected consumers beyond the city.However, it was never passed. FailedFederal Legislation byUnited States Senator Patrick Leahy, in 2007 sponsored a bill thatwould have triggered the imposition of strict controls on gatheringand storage of consumer data. Through the bill, there would be theimposition of “personal data security and privacy programrequirements on firms that deal with sensitive personallyidentifiable digital or electronic information for 10,000 and overU.S. citizens” (Picard, 2011). The act would also have endorsed anotification requirement for federal data breach. Nonetheless, thebill was not tabled on the floor of the entire senate.

Lastly,we seek to find out what firms do with personal information, why theywant it and how they use it. Companies use this internet content forpurposes such as behavioral advertising. Behavioral targeting alsoaims at linking consumers with new friends, old friends, andbeneficial products that may be enjoyable to the consumer (Berger,2011). Compared to other forms of advertisement, behavioraladvertising offers companies who are the advertisers an effective andefficient means of pinpoint targeting a potentially economicallyviable demographic. This form of advertisement is very efficient thatmost companies engaging in it enjoy “the highest return oninvestment (ROI) for e-advertising –spent dollars” (Leon, 2013).Behavior advertising supported by target advertising further assistssmall businesses to compete, especially since the nature of theircustomers would be too widely spread to impact through other forms ofadvertising. Consumers will have access to ads that are probablyuseful, appealing, and conveniently tailored to their tastes andpreferences. The ads placement then generates revenues that companiesuse to fund internet-based services and content.


Theconsumer believes and attitudes that affect personal informationgiving include the perceived risk, perceived benefits, control, gainreputation, and protect reputation. In addition, the of privacypolicies that are in place now to control target marketing and safetyof personal information include the New York Legislation and FailedFederal Legislation, though both were proposed but not enacted. Firmsuse this personal information to undertake behavioral and targetmarketing. However, more efforts have to be channeled towardsprotecting the privacy of personal information especially through thelegislation of more bills that controls the use of such personalinformation.



Berger,D.D. (2011). Balancing Consumer Privacy with Behavioral Targeting.Santa Clara Computer and High Tech. LJ. [Vol. 27]. Retrieved from:&lt

Fairfield,J.A.T. (2012). “Do-Not-Track” as Contract. Vanderbilt Journal ofEnterprise and Technology Law [Vol. 14:3:545]. Retrieved from:


Leon,P.G.,Ur,B., Wang, Y., Sleeper, M., Balebako, R., Shay, R., Bauer, L.,Christodorescu, M., &amp Cranor, L.F. (2013). What Matters to Users?Factors that Affect Users’ Willingness to Share Information withOnline Advertisers. Retrieved from:&lt

Iyilade,J., Orji, R. &amp Vissileva, J. (2013). Factors Influencing User’sAttitude to Secondary Information Sharing and Usage. Journal ofComputing and Information Technology. Retrieved from:&lt

Picard,E. (2011). TheEthical Issues with 3rd Party Behavioral Tracking.AdTraders. Retrieved from :&lt

Sloan,R.H. &amp Warner, R. B. (2014). Notice and Choice: Privacy, Norms,and Consent. Journal of High Technology Law. Retrieved from:&lt