Americans Cannot Consent to Companies’ Use of Their Data

Joseph Turow, Ypthach Lelkes, Nora A. Draper, Ari Ezra Waldman


Federal and state laws, as well as decisions from the Federal Trade Commission, require either implicit (“opt out”) or explicit (“opt in”) permission from individuals for companies to take and use data about them. Genuine opt-out and opt-in consent requires that people have knowledge about commercial data-extraction practices as well as a belief they can do something about them. This nationally representative fall 2022 survey of 2,014 adults in the U.S. shows that Americans have neither. We find that informed consent at scale is a myth, and we urge policymakers to act with that in mind.



surveys, privacy, surveillance, marketing, advertising, policymaking, resignation

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