FTC calls for "Do Not Track" list, new policies to protect online privacy

FTC calls for "Do Not Track" list, new policies to protect online privacy

Summary: The Federal Trade Commission is proposing new policies around online privacy, including the creation of a "Do Not Track" mechanism as a means of easing the burden on consumers trying to keep tabs on who's keeping tabs on them.The goal of the proposal, which is open to public comment until January 31, is "to balance the privacy interests of consumers with innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new products and services.

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The Federal Trade Commission is proposing new policies around online privacy, including the creation of a "Do Not Track" mechanism as a means of easing the burden on consumers trying to keep tabs on who's keeping tabs on them.

The goal of the proposal, which is open to public comment until January 31, is "to balance the privacy interests of consumers with innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new products and services." Facebook is one example of a company that has been innovating to channel the valuable data it has about its members into extended features but has also come under fire for crossing extremely fine lines when it comes to privacy.

And so, the commission is proposing some policies that would empower consumers to make educated decisions. Company privacy policies, for example, are "long, legalistic disclosures that consumers usually don’t read and don’t understand if they do." Consumers, the FTC argues, shouldn't have to bear so much of the burden to protect their own privacy.

The commissions recommends adoption of a "privacy by design" approach where protections are built into everyday business practices and suggested that companies step up their efforts to address privacy, such as implementing new policies, training employees and reviewing privacy implications of new products and services. It also suggested that, for the sake of reducing confusion, that companies be allowed to engage in "certain commonly accepted practices" without seeking consent. From the report:

It is reasonable for companies to engage in certain practices – namely, product and service fulfillment, internal operations such as improving services offered, fraud prevention, legal compliance, and first-party marketing. By clarifying those practices for which consumer consent is unnecessary, companies will be able to streamline their communications with consumers, reducing the burden and confusion on consumers and businesses alike.

Finally, the commission recommended a “Do Not Track” mechanism that would allow consumers to opt-out of any collection of their information about what they do on the Internet for the sake of serving ads. It said that the most practical method would involve a setting, such as a cookies, on a browser that dictates the user's choices as it pertains to tracking and receiving targeted ads.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Legal, Security

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35 comments
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  • Google is gonna lobby agaisnt this

    extra hard.
    iPad-awan
    • Agreed.

      @iPad-awan

      It is their business model, and a major factor, why I avoid most of their software.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: FTC calls for

      this is just as brainless as trying to remove porn off the internet.
      bspurloc
      • RE: FTC calls for

        @bspurloc

        Incorrect... although p0rn may not be appropriate for younger people it is directly involved with human nature although some is crude...

        On the other hand most people respect their privacy and don't care for a company with false practices (Don't Be Evil) and harvest everyone's information to sell off to whomever wants to buy it without consent. I stopped using Google years ago when I found this out which I've informed others which in turn left Google for Yahoo or Microsoft.

        Your comment is as brainless as saying the same for the do not call list. You're a fool.
        audidiablo
    • RE: FTC calls for

      So will Facebook - it strikes right at the heart of their monetization plan.
      GDF
  • Good

    Hopefully, it puts Google out of business.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: FTC calls for

      @Cylon Centurion 0005

      Fully agree.
      audidiablo
    • RE: FTC calls for

      @Cylon Centurion 0005

      If this were to put google out of business it would put all current search engines out of business. Sure you want that?
      SlithyTove
  • Will be Push Back from Corporations

    Can you imagine if there was a way to stop cookies and web-bugs and all the ilk that tracks you all over the Internet ? I'm all for it, but many businesses will cry a river over this.
    jpr75_z
  • How do you know who not to track??

    It isn't like every anonymous visitor can be filtered by using their phone number. Last I checked, IP's were dynamic for most web users.
    wackoae
    • RE: FTC calls for

      @wackoae Probably you'd have to submit a request to your ISP to have tracking of the actual IP for your entire household blocked. Then software would be required to have a function that referenced a database, either maintained by the government or collaboratively by the telecoms (more like the ISPs would just be intermediaries to submission of the do-not-track request) that would tell the software if it is permitted to use information coming from that IP for advertising purposes.
      mindcircus
    • RE: FTC calls for

      @wackoae <br><br>Hmm ever heard of a MAC address?
      audidiablo
    • RE: FTC calls for

      @wackoae
      The answer was in the penultimate paragraph of the article:
      A cookie, that like robots.txt on your website, directs (well-behaved) sites not to track you. Works for any computer and browser, under any OS, with or without dynamic IP addresses.
      dbell5
      • Easier to do it yourself

        @dbell5
        Ghostery is a browser tool available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. You can use it to disable the scripts, pixels, and other elements that track you.
        By doing it yourself you have more assurance of it getting done than depending on the government to do it for you. Remember the Do Not Call list for telephones ? You would still get the calls from the telemarketers that would pretend not to know that you were on the list.
        Ghostery is a free add-on.
        coopejx@...
  • KILL GOOGLE!!!

    No more skynet.
    Tommy S.
  • RE: FTC calls for

    The government (and not just ours) doesn't want the competition.
    JonA_z
  • RE: FTC calls for

    for current state privacy policies, generally, see: ncsl.org
    jerseymichelle
  • Looks like the FTC is wanting to implement my ideas, which I laid out

    in this discussion...

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/eu-wants-right-to-delete-for-online-personal-data/6664?tag=nl.e539

    It looks like they might be using every one of my suggestions.

    In that set of posts, I indicated that websites should take action to stop collecting a user's personal information if the user requests it, and that the website should also prevent any previously collected information form the user to be used from that point on.

    Hopefully, the FTC would not be using those regulations as a "foot in the door" from which to spring forth more regulations for the internet. After all, we do want real "net neutrality", but, with government intervention through regulations, the interpretation of "net neutrality" would become dependent upon whichever party would be currently in power at that time.
    adornoe
    • RE: FTC calls for

      So, like, are you looking for royalties? A seat on the Commission? What you wrote (in voluminous and redundant detail) was hardly new. Even so, I congratulate you on both your timely post and your early move to snag credit.
      GDF
      • No, he's just a dry teabag...

        ...who believes in sucking corporate wind.
        ahh so