The Reasons Behind Tracing Audience Behavior: A Matter of Paternalism and Transparency

Ester Appelgren


This article analyzes privacy agreement texts and cookie consent information collected from 60 news sites in three countries (U.S., UK, and Sweden) within the context of paternalism. The goal of this study is to explore how paternalism is present in news media companies’ stated reasons for collecting behavioral data. Twenty-five categories of reasons were identified and divided into six categories: personalization and enhanced user experience, delivery and maintenance of services, internal and corporate use of data, legal reasons, communication with the user, and third-party use of data. The analysis shows that the reasons can be formulated in both paternalistic and nonpaternalistic ways, and that the market-driven logic of Web analytics seems to collide with ethics in a journalistic context.


behavioral data, privacy, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), paternalism, news media and transparency

Full Text: