Back in the 1990s, technologists proposed that privacy be dealt with through “infomediaries,” companies that would negotiate on behalf of the consumer to protect privacy and other rights. For instance, in a 1997 editorial, Esther Dyson argued that infomediaries were superior to self-regulation, privacy laws (ineffective because of the global nature of the internet), and other forms of consumer self-help (because consumers “aren’t very good at protecting their own interests”). She argued:
“The Internet, however, promises to change this balance of power. It can give each individual the power and the tools to bargain on his own terms, even as computers provide the capability to keep track of each individual’s preferences about how the data are to be used. But it won’t if Washington imposes one-size-fits-all regulation.