Jon Leibowitz  (Source: NYT)
Advertising industry says such a list would cause serious economic harm

The FTC has been closely listening to the privacy concerns of U.S. citizens that use the internet and is making some recommendations that will help improve privacy online.

The FTC advocated a plan this week that would allow consumers to “opt out” of whether or not they are monitored online by third parties that capture their surfing and buying habits. The FTC suggest a simple mechanism that would set up a "Do Not Track" list of users similar to the national Do Not Call registry that telemarketers are forced to follow.

New York Times reports that the FTC would probably need the help of congress to enact a Do Not Track list. The FTC will start for now with a proposal dubbed "privacy by design" that will require companies to build protections into business practices.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, "Despite some good actors, self-regulation of privacy has not worked adequately and is not working adequately for American consumers. We’d like to see companies work a lot faster to make consumer choice easier."

He continued saying, "Our main concern is the sites and services that are connecting the dots between different times and places that a consumer is online and building a profile of what a consumer is doing."

The advertising industry supports some of the general proposals that the FTC is offering, but opposes the more strict parts of the proposal such as the Do Not Track list. Mike Zaneis from the Interactive Advertising Bureau said that such a list would cause the advertising industry "significant economic harm" if it is enacted. Zaneis said, "If your goal is to have a red flashing icon that says, ‘Click here to opt out of targeting,’ and to incentivize people to opt out, then we don’t share that goal."

Leibowitz said, "Most of us on the commission believe it is time for a ‘do not track’ mechanism."

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