In its announcement that it would convene a series of public roundtables to address developing privacy issues, the Federal Trade Commission requested empirical data on consumer privacy expectations. In response to that request, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania have released a study entitled "Americans Reject Tailored Advertising." Survey data reported in the study found that 66% of Americans reject targeted advertising online; 86% reject such ads when told they are made possible through online data collection. The study also makes the case that Americans would like much stricter laws governing the data collected online and higher penalties for failures to comply.
The study did not explore consumers’ perceptions of the role played by targeted advertising in providing free content to users or their willingness to pay for content in the absence of that advertising support. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has announced its intent to address these issues in the current session of Congress. In the absence of alternative empirical data, this study will feature prominently in the policy debate about regulating behavioral targeting in the U.S. and Europe.