Print 7 comment(s) - last by Jalek.. on Sep 8 at 9:35 PM

U.S. lawmakers are now seeking to protect Internet users

Congress is drafting new legislation that would alter internet advertising to better protect the consumer, as many users are unaware that internet marketers are tracking them.

"Our goal is not to hinder online advertising," said Rep. Rick Boucher, (D.,-VA) who is the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet leader, speaking with the Associated Press.  "This will make people more likely to trust electronic commerce and the Internet."

Boucher's legislation is still being worked on, but would help inform internet users that the search queries they conduct and the personal information posted on social networking web sites can be tracked by advertising marketers.  Furthermore, it's expected lawmakers will approve some type of law that helps protect online personal information. Internet users can also "opt in" or "opt out" when they are informed their information may be collected.  

Sites collecting medical and financial information, sexual orientation, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive information would be required to have "opt in" status.

Companies that collect information or have a third-party contractor collecting data must inform internet users of the data that is being collected.

This increased legal pressure has led to advertisers already being put on notice of upcoming changes, with a draft of self-regulatory principles released to avoid government involvement.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released the guidelines in early 2009.

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By R3T4rd on 9/8/2009 9:11:26 AM , Rating: 1

Sounds simple and wouldn't surprise me if the bill is 2000 pages long. And then I'd like to know what else is hidden in it.

RE: Um....and...yeah...
By scrapsma54 on 9/8/2009 10:53:13 AM , Rating: 2
Those who sacrifice freedom for protection deserve neither.

I hope we have some honest republicans and honest democrats in office that will read the entire document carefully.
If not, america is F*$%ed.

RE: Um....and...yeah...
By DarkElfa on 9/8/2009 3:00:50 PM , Rating: 3
There are no honest politicians, that would be an oxymoron, we've been on our way to F*$%ed for quite some time, like the last 2 centuries I mean. As long as the neocons at Fixed News don't try and say there are death panels in the bill we should be good to go. But if there are like 2000 pages, I mean who could read that, right Newt?

Why? Who really cares?
By HighWing on 9/8/2009 2:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, does the average person "really" care enough about this to want a change?

Granted at first read/glance the idea that an ad group is "tracking" what you do online sounds bad. But looking at the other side of what they can actually "do" with this information isn't so bad at all. Beyond sending you spam and ads for things you might actually be interested in, what else can they really "do" with the information they collect about you online?

Now I'm sure the first response I would get is from people mentioning how they can track what sites you've been on, and that could lead to incriminating evidence against some people. However, I would have to ask, how would the ad group have your name? It's not like the ad/tracking cookies are actually linked to the user names of the websites they are on. So even if the ad information was leaked, someone would have to actually take some time and research to figure out who the information actually belonged to. And even then it's not guaranteed that they could do that 100% of the time.

I realize that it's "big" news that some of this information has been stolen/leaked/sold in the past. And that it could "potential" be used for bad things. However, I have yet to see any news that any of that information has been used in a negative way.

Bottom line, I'm not arguing that it can't be done, I am just arguing weather it is really happening enough, or "could" happen enough that it would even be a problem the government needs to get involved in.

RE: Why? Who really cares?
By Jalek on 9/8/2009 9:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
You mean like when AOL's search info was published and a reporter tracked down a couple of people based on their search histories?

I liked the wife of a military person in some town in Illinois that was going to divorce him while deployed and move to Alabama, her intentions were pretty clear, down to where she was going to open a bank account in the target town and several clues to medical history.

It's ok though, Google only keeps that information for 18 months, keyed by IP address, and their analytics and ads are probably on more pages than anyone elses.

Ad tracking I don't really care about, I delete those cookies anyway, it's the search logs that are more fun, and the story mentioned those.

This won't really matter, there's no money behind it so there won't be any enforcement. Just more laws to sell more volumes of federal legal code.

should be...
By MadMan007 on 9/8/2009 6:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
You should have to opt in to any 'tracking' and also explicitly give consent to have your information or browsing history used in any fashion beyond consent buried in a huge EULA type of document. Opt out should be the default for everything and not opting in should not limit you from using a resource.

CanSpam act...
By croc on 9/8/2009 8:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
I hope that this turns out better than the last legislation that the US congress wrote for an internet related issue.

'Opt out'? Sure, go play hide and seek with the US spammers' 'opt out' option. Us is now the origin of more spam than any other country in the world. And because of CanSpam, 90% of it is legal.

US copyright system is a joke. US patent system is a joke. US CanSpam is a joke. I expect another joke to come from this attempt as well, probably making user tracking even more obscure, and probably 100% legal.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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