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Home > Past Releases and Reports > Privacilla Releases Report on Affiliate Sharing and Privacy

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2003

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 546-3701

Privacilla Releases Report on Affiliate Sharing and Privacy

Study Finds that Affiliate-Sharing Regulation Probably Imposes Costs on Majority of Consumers for Benefit of Few Privacy Outliers

Washington, D.C. — released a report today assessing the relationship between affiliate-sharing regulation and privacy. California has recently passed laws to regulate affiliate sharing, and national affiliate-sharing laws are currently being debated in Congress.

By comparing response rates to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Federal Trade Commission's Do-Not-Call list, the study gauges the demand for affiliate-sharing regulation as a consumer protection. The report is called "Affiliate-Sharing and Consumers: How “Privacy” Regulation Misses the Mark, Hits Marketing."

Gramm-Leach-Bliley gave consumers a right to prevent financial institutions from sharing information with unaffiliated third parties. The Do-Not-Call list gives consumers the power to prevent many telemarketing calls.

The Do-Not-Call list enjoyed a response rate about ten times that of Gramm-Leach-Bliley. This signals that sharing of personal information within corporate families is not likely a strong privacy concern or action-item for consumers.

"There is plenty of consensus among advocates, politicians, and bureaucrats that consumers want affiliate-sharing regulation," said Jim Harper, Editor of "Real-world evidence about consumer interest cuts the other way. Corporate information practices appear not to be a significant privacy concern for real consumers."

The report draws three significant conclusions:

  • Effective privacy regulation focuses on preventing harms rather than establishing obscure consumer “rights” like prevention of affiliate-sharing.
  • Consumers choose publicity as often as the choose privacy. It is wrong to assume that most or all consumers choose privacy over other interests.
  • Many consumers dislike intrusive marketing, but more likely because of the intrusion than because of the marketing.
The report concludes that "affiliate-sharing regulation appears likely to impose costs on all consumers in order to serve the preferences of a narrow group of privacy outliers."

Criticizing activists who push affiliate-sharing regulation in the name of privacy, Harper said, "Real consumer advocacy should focus on what real consumers really want. The push for heavy regulation of corporate information practices appears more anti-commercial than pro-privacy. "

Citing government surveillance and related threats, the report says: "Too many genuine privacy issues remain to let an anti-marketing agenda dominate our national discussion about privacy. " ( is an innovative Web site that captures "privacy" as a public policy issue. Privacilla has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."


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