FTC backs 'do not track' list for Web users

CIOL Bureau
Updated On
New Update

WASHINGTON:  U.S. regulators backed the creation of a "do not track" option for the Internet that would limit the ability of advertisers to collect consumers' data.


In a preliminary staff report, the Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday that while companies generally manage consumer information responsibly, there are exceptions.

"Self-regulation in privacy has not worked adequately," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "A legislative solution will surely be needed if industry doesn't step up to the plate."

Leibowitz said he supported creation of a mechanism that allows consumers to opt out of some tracking, adding that Congress would probably need to act, which may be difficult because of legislative gridlock next year.


Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said on Wednesday that he planned to introduce legislation that would require companies to secure data and inform consumers about what data is being collected.

Republicans in the House of Representatives, like Representative Joe Barton, have said, without offering details, they would focus on privacy issues.

The FTC staff report also urged that special care be taken with information about sensitive topics such as finances, health, children or an individual's location.


The agency's report urged the development of ways to build privacy into the design of business practices by, for example, collecting only the data that is needed and disposing of it when it is no longer being used.

The agency also proposed that company privacy policies be simpler, clearer and shorter.

The report comes as the FTC is under pressure to contain the growing strength and savvy of companies collecting Internet users' personal data and selling it to advertisers.