Privacy Invasions That Also Discriminate

by Jeff Sovern

Regular readers of this blog will know that businesses use cookies, etc. to track consumer online behavior for marketing purposes. But what may be less well known is that businesses use the information they glean online to offer different consumers different prices.  A recent paper makes the point. See Jakub Mikians, László Gyarmati, Vijay Erramilli, & Nikolaos Laoutaris, Detecting price and search discrimination on
the Internet
 (finding price differences based on the customer’s location and affluence). I wonder if such behavior might produce discrimination based on race, gender, etc.  If so, will Congress do for the internet what it did for credit lending in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and other statutes: prohibit objectionable discrimination?

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