FTC Demands 'Do Not Track' Tool

By Cindy Waxer December 02, 2010

WikiLeaks isn’t the only entity keeping tabs on private conversations and behind-the-scenes behavior. Marketers are notorious for tracking unwitting consumers’ Web browsing habits in order to better target shoppers.

Well, the Federal Trade Commission hopes to put an end to such online espionage with a proposed ‘Do Not Track’ tool – most likely a persistent setting on consumers’ browsers – so that consumers can choose whether to permit the collection of data regarding their online searching and browsing activities. Essentially, consumers would be able to opt out of the collection of information about their Internet behavior for targeted ads with the click of a button signaling the consumer’s choices about being tracked and receiving targeted ads.

“Technological and business ingenuity have spawned a whole new online culture and vocabulary – email, IMs, apps and blogs – that consumers have come to expect and enjoy. The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, in a statement.

Sure, there have been plenty of attempts to convince marketers and consumers alike to self-regulate their online activities. But these efforts “have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection,” laments Leibowitz.

“This proposal is intended to inform policymakers, including Congress, as they develop solutions, policies, and potential laws governing privacy, and guide and motivate industry as it develops more robust and effective best practices and self-regulatory guidelines,” according to the report, which is titled, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”

The ‘Do Not Track’ tool is said to have been inspired by today’s ‘Do Not Call Registry’ which gives consumers the choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. The list, launched in 2003, prevents telemarketers from calling once you have been registered for 31 days.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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