Online advertising is a self-regulated industry, which means you tangle with it entirely on its terms
The signature, once the widely accepted seal of approval, seems increasingly quaint and perfunctory in the age of digitally mediated interaction, an outmoded ritual that for many transactions has become superfluous. When you scrawl-sign your name with a plastic stub in digital capture box, you can’t help but wonder whether this vestigial ritual of consent is even necessary.
Online marketers and data brokers don’t seem to think so, however. Many benefit from this relic and its inability to handle today’s complexities. This is best seen when we try to enter into agreements to opt out of online advertising schemes. Instead of agreeing to an opted-out status, we find we have always opted in—even when we accept their consent to not track our online activities. We are, it seems, already opted out of opting out of such efforts.
Traditionally, the matter of drawing signatures on documents has served as the lasting reminder of the moment of contractual consent. But this moment, in more and more cases, never comes. For instance, faced with towering stacks of delinquent contracts, mortgage companies resorted to the practice of robo-signing to expedite foreclosure proceedings against homeowners, despite laws that explicitly forbid such practices. President Obama’s legal team had to argue for the constitutionality of his using an autopen to sign legislation into law when he is away from Washington.