Do-Not-Track Bill Introduced in Senate Addreses Online Privacy
A bill introduced in the Senate May 9 would give American consumers the right to shop online, voice dissenting opinions and visit racy Websites without leaving a digital trail. In short, they would be able to opt out of having their online activities tracked, both on a PC and a mobile browser.
"Recent reports of privacy invasions have made it imperative that we do more to put consumers in the driver's seat when it comes to their personal information," Sen. John D. Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.), sponsor of the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011, said in a statement. "I believe consumers have a right to decide whether their information can be collected and used online. This bill offers a simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their movements online."
If passed, the bill would, first, legally obligate online companies to honor consumers' choices about whether they want information collected about their online activities. Second, it would empower the Federal Trade Commission to pursue action against any company that fails to honor a consumer's choice.
Lastly, if a consumer allowed a company to collect information necessary for the site or online service to "function and be effective," it would then "place a legal obligation on the online company to destroy or anonymize the information once it is no longer needed."
The bill is similar to a Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011 that was sponsored in February by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif). Speier also introduced a bill that would give consumers more control over the financial information that banks and other financial institutions collect about them.
Microsoft's Bing and Mozilla's Firefox browsers are designed to enable users to block advertisers from tracking the sites they visit, but without a law, such as the one the Rockefeller bill hopes to enact, advertisers and marketers aren't obligated to honor no-tracking requests.
During a May 9 conference call on the introduction of the bill, a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union said, "All along, the message we've given is that we want e-commerce to grow ... but we want it to grow [in conjunction with] a meaningful amount of personal privacy."
For more, read the eWEEK article: Senate Bill Would Bar Advertisers from Tracking Your Online Moves.