May 19, 2011

The Future of Internet Privacy Regulation

Adam Thierer

Senior Research Fellow

Federal policy makers are considering a variety of Internet privacy regulations that would limit the collection of data about online Web surfers—data which, in turn, powers the online advertising engine that generally supports most online content and services. The debate is unfolding on multiple fronts—in Congress, within the Federal Trade Commission, and throughout the Obama administration more broadly. The stakes in the debate are significant since regulation could fundamentally alter the nature of online commerce and how digital content and services are provided in the future.  In light of the importance of this debate to the Internet economy, Adam Thierer of the Mercatus Center examines the trade-offs involved as Washington looks to craft a new privacy regulatory regime for the Internet.