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FTC says industry implementing 'do not track'

Consumers can avoid web snooping
Thu Mar 17 2011, 13:10

THE US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has told Congress companies are beginning to implement do not track principles to give web surfers more privacy.

The FTC told Congress that plans for "do not track," which allows consumers to surf unseen by shadowy web firms, are well underway and will protect privacy through a range of measures.

Those weapons at the FTC's disposal include enforcement actions, consumer education and policy initiatives that are expected to balance privacy rights against industry and Internet innovation, which we assume means marketing information snuffling and data harvesting software.

There are three ways to do this, said the FTC, and they start at the earliest possible place, which is building privacy protection into the Internet, often referred to as privacy by design. Privacy choices should also be simplified and privacy notices should be spared the usual liberal doses of legalese and confusing language.

As the FTC presented its findings it said that both Microsoft and Mozilla are backing "choice mechanisms" for privacy aware but rights confused users.

"Do not track is no longer just a concept, it is becoming a reality," said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. "It's encouraging to see companies responding positively to our call for more consumer choice about their online privacy."

Any do not track regime that is put in place should be all encompassing, said the FTC, and must let consumers opt out of receiving targeted adverts and having their behaviour tracked online.

This should be implemented universally, meaning that consumers will not have to inspect settings and opt out again and again as they go from website to website. This should be a continued right, the FTC added, and should be enforced even when users have cleaned out their cookies or Internet cache. µ

 

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