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Friday, March 01, 2013
Senator Brings Back Do-Not-Track Bill

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller has introduced a Do-Not-Track bill, which would charge the Federal Trade Commission with establishing standards by which consumers could tell online companies, including mobile applications, that they do not want their information collected.

Under the bill, similar to legislation Rockefeller introduced in 2011, the FTC would be charged with ensuring that companies respect a consumer's Do-Not-Track choice.

The bill would make it law for all Web browsers, online companies, and app makers to give users a choice of opting out of being tracked online. Advertisers commonly track users to collect information on sites visited, search queries, purchasing habits and more.

Last March the FTC issued its report "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change," which called for the implementation of a Do-Not-Track mechanism. Instead of seeking legislation to implement Do Not Track, the FTC relied on voluntary efforts such as that by the W3C, an Internet standards setting organization.

The W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group has been attempting to draft two standards. One would specify how technically a Do-Not-Track message would be sent, while the second would cover the obligations of a website that receives the Do-Not-Track message.

In another privacy-friendly development, Mozilla has announced it will block 3rd party cookies by default in Version 22 of its browser, expected to be released this summer. Cookies are little bits of computer code that allow a user to be tracked. Apple's Safari browser already blocks 3rd party cookies by default. Google paid a $22.5 million penalty to the FTC for hacking past the privacy settings on Safari, which is used on iPhones and iPads and other Apple devices.

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