|Not an original idea but I'd be interested in HN's perspective.|
Can we reduce “surveillance capitalism” by reducing the incentive to collect personal data? Personal data is primarily collected and used by the advertising industry. Large ad companies such as Facebook and Google already admit that microtargeting with personal data is being misused. Google voluntarily restricts targeting for political advertising  while Facebook has called for legislation .
If we were to simply ban the use of personal data beyond a few key items like age, gender and zip code for delivering ads there would be less reason to collect more data. Advertising companies will still earn ample profit from their ads with contextual targeting (e.g. showing ads related to search terms or related to the topic of a post or news item being displayed on the screen) and coarse grained targeting.
The simplicity of the rule would simpler to understand and enforce and would be much less prone to loopholes exploited by the sophisticated legal teams at the largest advertising companies. This creates a more level playing field between large and small companies perhaps enabling increased competition.
Banning targeted advertising is not a panacea for protecting personal data. Other industries can still extract value including insurance companies that may adjust prices up or down based on your data or retailers may offer discounts or enhanced services to its most profitable customers. Even so by restricting the most profitable and prevalent misuse of personal data perhaps we can protect it.
What do you think? Would this work?