The paradigms draw from two-sided market theory to conceptualize OBA. Empirical case studies, NebuAd's DPI platform and Facebook's Beacon program, substantiate the paradigms with insights into the controversies on behavioral tracking between 2006 and 2009 in the USA. The case studies are based on document analyses and interviews.
Comparing the two cases from a technological, economic, and institutional perspective, the article argues that both paradigms were equally privacy intrusive. Thus, it rejects the generally held view that privacy issues can explain the outcome of the battle. Politics and regulatory legacy tilted the playing field towards the cookies paradigm, impeding a competing technology.
Shifting the narrative away from privacy to competing tracking paradigms and their specific actors sheds light on the political and the regulatory rationales that were not considered in previous research on OBA. Particularly, setting forth institutional aspects on OBA – and DPI in general – the case studies provide much needed empirical analysis to reassess tracking technologies and policy outcomes.
This article is part of a larger research project, “Deep Packet Inspection and the Governance of the Internet”, funded by the United States National Science Foundation, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, Award SES-1026916. The author would like to thank Milton Mueller for his guidance and insightful discussions, and Leo Van Audenhove, Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius, and Stephanie Santoso for their valuable comments. Received 1 April 2013 Revised 10 July 2013 Accepted 11 July 2013
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