Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



In the United States the prevailing public policy approach to mitigating the harms of internet surveillance is grounded in the liberal democratic value of transparency. While a laudable goal, transparency runs up against insurmountable structural constraints within the political economy of commercial surveillance. A case study of the data broker industry reveals the limits of transparency and shows that commodification of personal information is at the root of the power imbalances that transparency-based strategies of consumer empowerment seek to rectify. Despite significant challenges, privacy policy must be more centrally informed by a critical political economy of commercial surveillance.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.