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FTC’s ‘Do Not Track’ Proposal Protects Consumer Privacy Online

Posted on : 08-12-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Online Privacy

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Last Wednesday, in a report to Congress, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published its most potent online privacy protection proposal yet. The proposal entitled, Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change, advocates stricter restrictions on online information collection or Web tracking, a Do Not Track browser setting, and greater transparency and consumer control of the information collected.  According to the report, “[I]ndustry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection.” The FTC’s answer is a Do Not Track setting on consumers’ Web browsers.

Similar to the Do Not Call Registry, the Do Not Track setting would allow consumers to easily opt out of all Web tracking in one place. Currently, consumers have almost no say over who is tracking their information or what information is being tracked. While a minority of companies offer an opt-out option, doing so is often confusing and complicated. Thus, the Do Not Track proposal simplifies the process.

It is important to note that the “Do Not Track” could apply to all Web tracking, including behavioral advertising and services, such as Google Analytics, which builds a profile of individuals’ online activity. While the FTC has called for voluntary cooperation with its proposal, if trackers ignore said proposal, the FTC will likely ask Congress to pass legislation. The FTC is soliciting public comment on the proposal until January 31, 2011. To file a public comment electronically, please click here and follow the instructions.

To learn more about Do Not Track, please read the following articles:

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