FTC to Urge ‘One-Stop’ Do-Not-Track Browsing Option

Commerce Department to Convene Industry on ‘Do Not Track’
The do-not-track proposal is aimed at online advertisers' practice of recording consumers’ movements on the Internet. Photo: Bloomberg

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will call for a “one-stop” do-not-track option for online browsing, said David Vladeck, the agency’s director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Such a requirement would need congressional action because the agency lacks the legal authority to impose the rules, Vladeck said today at a privacy conference in Washington.

“Consumers face a daunting burden in this marketplace to safeguard their privacy,” Vladeck said. “We hope to provide updated advice to consumers about how to upgrade browsers to avoid having their history snatched when they visit a website.”

Proposals letting online users tell Internet sites not to collect and analyze information about them based on their online history are backed by consumer groups. The idea is based on the “do not call” register the FTC set up in 2003 that lets consumers block telemarketing calls at home.

The “do not track” plan is a partial solution, said Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America, which represents more than 300 national, state and local consumer groups.

“It doesn’t resolve all the issues raised by behavioral advertising, but it would give people more control over the collection and use of their information until we can hash out the rest of the complex issues that would be involved in getting some baseline privacy regulation,” Grant said.

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