Forgetful Advertising: Imagining a More Responsible Digital Ad System

Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci
Ethan Zuckerman
24 Yale J.L. & Tech. 421

As Silicon Valley giants sketch their preferred future for digital advertising, an infrastructure with significant implications for life online and offline, there are startlingly few alternatives to their vision. In response, we propose “forgetful advertising”, a vision for responsible digital advertising structured around a single design choice: avoiding the storage of behavioral data. Forgetful advertising can still target ads using information like geography, intent, context, and whatever else can be gleaned from a single interaction between a user and a website, but it cannot remember any previous interactions to inform its targeting. We believe our proposal can make digital advertising compatible with the values of human agency and privacy and offer it as a bottom-up solution for organizations that find existing digital advertising systems inconsistent with their values.