Bill to Restrict Online Tracking Introduced in Congress

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John Q. Public
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Bill to Restrict Online Tracking Introduced in Congress

Post by John Q. Public »

Lots of internet news lately. Here's one. I'm curious to see how people think on it. I'm ambivalent, at best. Yes, there are companies that mine more data than I'd prefer they mine, but I have no problem with advertisers knowing my interests. Websites make their money from advertising and targeted ads pay better than non-targeted ones. It seems like removing the targeting could have adverse effects on the sites we use. The up side is that it could make Search Engine Marketing less profitable and cut down on the number of junk sites that appear at the top of searches. (still gotta find that "crossing fingers" smilie)

Something else that concerns me on this one is that the 15,000 visitor mark isn't as high as it might sound. We're way over that and we're just a one-man, spare-time operation. I definitely don't have the budget to hire a Compliance Department.

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Bill to Restrict Online Tracking Introduced in Congress
By Ryan Singel February 11, 2011

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) introduced a bill Friday that would require online-tracking firms to allow citizens to opt out of tracking, or else face stiff fines.

The bill, known as the Do-Not-Track-Me-Online Act, intends to let people choose a no-tracking setting in their browser and have companies obey that setting. The rules would mainly apply to companies whose primary business is collecting and analyzing data, but has loopholes for companies that collect data to improve their own services. Under those provisions, the FTC could rule website-analytics software to be legal.

The FTC asked browser makers in December to include a Do-Not-Track button in their browser, and called on online-advertising companies to agree to obey the settings. The setting is already available in beta builds of Firefox, and will soon be integrated into Chrome and IE as well.

Speier’s legislation seems directed at behavioral-tracking companies that track users around the web — usually without their knowledge — in order to create marketing profiles about users. The info is then used to serve targeted ads, which can be sold at a premium to advertisers.

The proposed legislation, H.R. 264, exempts state, local and federal governments from having to obey the Do-Not-Track setting, and gives the FTC the authority to allow other exemptions for currently accepted business practices.

Without such an FTC exemption, nearly anyone who has a mildly successful website — with more than 15,000 visitors per year — could face stiff fines for using even the most basic website-analytics software, which generally records the IP address, browser and operating system of a visitor’s computer.

Currently, the FTC can levy a fine only if a company publicly agrees to obey the setting, but doesn’t. But with the legislation, the government would be able to force companies — and perhaps bloggers who break the 15,000 visitor mark — to obey the setting.

More here: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/02/ ... rack-bill/
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kramer
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Re: Bill to Restrict Online Tracking Introduced in Congress

Post by kramer »

Didn't Microsoft just say that they are going to come out with a browser that prevents this kind of stuff?
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Re: Bill to Restrict Online Tracking Introduced in Congress

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kramer wrote:Didn't Microsoft just say that they are going to come out with a browser that prevents this kind of stuff?
IE, Firefox and Chrome will all have settings for opting out. No idea how fine-grained they'll be, though, or what their definition of "following" will be. Most web sites depend on people being followed to a point for their income, so I'm a little concerned about that.

And then it's up to the site doing the following to comply or not. And how would anything like that keep some companies from following you even if they do "comply?" Some of the companies - Google, for instance - are so ubiquitous that they'll probably still be able to follow people even if they do comply with their browser settings.
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Re: Bill to Restrict Online Tracking Introduced in Congress

Post by Wiley »

I'm not interested in the government setting communication standards for the Internet but consumers do need to have the option of protecting themselves from data-miners, keystroke analyzers and site trackers. The ability to opt out by one software command would be ideal. Google, Facebook and Twitter are gaining too much technological power and need leashes to keep them from profiting on a user's personal information.
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