Doctoral candidate Lemi Baruh presented a paper titled "The Right to Read Anonymously in the Age of Interactive Media" at the America: Visions and Divisions Conference at the University of Texas, Austin, October 3, 2003.
Abstract: The proliferation of interactive media has provided corporations with an unprecedented ability to collect information about individuals’ media consumption habits. This ability of the corporations is often reinforced by the rhetoric of “consumer sovereignty” whereby individuals are misled into entrusting a considerable amount of information about their daily activities in exchange for increased convenience. The purpose of this paper is to explain the ways in which the information that individuals reveal to content and technology providers is subject to the scrutiny of external constituencies. More importantly, this paper, through an analysis of legal precedents will demonstrate that the right to read anonymously is an important corollary of freedom of speech and that the ability of corporations to share information about individuals’ media consumption habits threatens this right.