Anyone who has seen the sci-fi film Minority Report will remember the surreal sequence in which the film’s hero—having had the eyes of a dead man transplanted into his own head to avoid being identified via retinal scan—walks through a futuristic shopping mall. As the retail systems scan his new eyes, he is automatically offered multiple enticements to buy products based on the information stored about the deceased eye donor.

Of course, that scenario is not yet a reality, but it could be. In fact, with online information gathering capabilities growing more sophisticated, such a “scan” to gather consumer preferences may take place any time a consumer logs on to the Web. As you might imagine, such a possibility is of great concern to privacy advocacy groups like the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, which describes itself as “a forum of US and EU consumer organizations which develops and agrees on joint consumer policy recommendations to the US government and the European Union.”

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