“Dr. Maris argues that this lack of disclosure is similar to the issue of sexual consent. “As in any sexual interaction, silence must not be mistaken for consent,” she said. “Individuals should have a clear understanding of the power dynamics of the sexual exchange they are entering when visiting porn sites.” Those power dynamics, according to Dr. Maris, are deeply unbalanced. “You have some of the world’s most powerful companies here,” she said, noting that there’s very little redress for the consumer should the data end up in the wrong hands.
Affirmative consent is at the heart of digital privacy. Nearly all tracking is by default and governed by impossible-to-read privacy policies. And in an era that privileges and prioritizes mass collection of personal information, that means gathering information that is not only invasive but also superfluous. The leaky user data of pornographic websites is merely an extreme example of what has become standard practice online.”