Even if U.S Senators John Kerry and John McCain left out Do Not Track provisions in their version of an Internet privacy bill, the universal tracking opt-out feature is under consideration in the House and California.
Senators John Kerry and John McCain came under fire from consumer advocacy
groups for not including a Do Not Track universal opt-out provision in their
privacy bill. However, lawmakers in the U.S House of Representatives and in the
California legislature are already tackling the issue.
Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act
co-sponsored by Kerry, D-Mass., and
McCain, R-Ariz., and introduced April 12, only required companies to provide
consumers with an easily accessible method for opting out of information
tracking on their sites. The Federal Trade Commission's proposal for a Do Not
Track mechanism last December recommended giving consumers a way to universally
tell online marketers and companies to not track their online activities at
said Do Not Track should be implemented by the private sector, but did not
specify whether the impetus to do so should come from the government or from
the industry. Based on recent activity in the California State Senate, the push
might come from the states.
state Sen. Alan Lowenthal introduced a bill on April 4 to restrict online
tracking. If passed, it would be the first Do-Not-Track law in the country.
Debate is scheduled to begin on April 26.
will lead and provide stimulus to the rest of the nation," Lowenthal said.
"It's much more difficult to get something like this through
mirrors a piece of legislation currently circulating in the U.S. House of
Representatives called the Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011. Rep. Jackie
Speier, also of California, introduced the proposal on Feb. 11.
bills apply to entities that collect or store certain types of user behavioral
information, such as the Websites accessed, time of visits, the type of browser
or device used to view the sites, and using geo-location to determine the
physical location of the device used. Personal details, such as name, address,
email address, location information and IP addresses, are also included.
have a right to surf the Web without Big Brother watching their every move and
announcing it to the world," Speier said in statement. "The Internet
marketplace has matured, and it is time for consumers' protections to keep
bills require that businesses disclose what information is being collected, how
it is used, and to whom it is given or sold. Businesses collecting data on less
than 15,000 people would be exempt, unless the organization were in the
business of monitoring, studying and analyzing individual behavior.
industry is already moving toward policing itself, and government-enforced
rules are "not a good idea," Steve Minichini, president of interactive at media
agency TargetCast, told eWEEK. While it is important to "double verify" how
private data is being used, Minichini said online tracking ultimately helps
consumers. The industry will "follow the money," and honor consumer requests
because they would lose business and partners otherwise, Minichini said.
Blanket legislation is too restrictive and unnecessary.
omission of DNT from the Kerry-McCain bill also doesn't appear to be worrying
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Do Not Track will be implemented even if there is
no legislation requiring it, Leibowitz
told Consumer Reports
on April 13.
want to do the right thing, and stay on the right side of consumers," Leibowitz
recent industry movements seem to support Leibowitz's statement. Apple added Do
Not Track capabilities to its Safari browser as part of the beta of the next
Mac OS X, code-named Lion, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Apple's move
follows Microsoft and Mozilla, which have already implemented this feature in
their latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox
While Google Chrome hasn't added the capability yet, there is a Chrome add-on
"Keep My Opt Outs" that does the same thing.
happy to see that [Do Not Track] has resonated this much not just with the
public and consumers, but with industry," Leibowitz said.
the feature in the browser at this point is just a step forward, but people
shouldn't think that checking that option means they are no longer being
tracked, according to Jonathan Nightingale, Mozilla's director of Firefox
development. The system would work only if the marketers honor people's
choices, and at this time, major ad networks haven't come to an agreement on
how to do so. Browser makers like Mozilla are implementing the feature in order
to be part of that conversation with marketers, Nightingale said.
Cliff Stearns of Florida and Jim Matheson of Utah introduced on April 13 a
broad privacy legislation similar to the Senate bill in the House of
Representatives. The House bill requires firms to create privacy policies that
tell consumers about the collection, sale and use of their data. There is no Do
Not Track provision in this bill, either.