Privacy is dead, and targeted advertising is the economic incentive that killed it. But what if individually targeted advertising was banned?

That’s what David Dayen is proposing in an editorial for the New Republic:

The ban I propose would be rather straightforward: The U.S. would disallow all individually targeted ads, with large fines or even removal from the public airwaves for repeated violations. Nothing tied to a user’s identity should be used to serve them a particular message. Companies would have to make all ads on its networks publicly viewable and searchable, so regulators can oversee them.

It’s unlikely anything like this will happen in the United States, but such a policy would remove the economic incentive behind widespread surveillance. Facebook and Google don’t collect information about you because it’s fun, they collect information about you because that’s valuable for their real customers: advertisers. Take away that incentive and priorities would change, quickly.