FTC’s do-not-track proposal gets chilly reception from GOP, browser makers

“House Republicans called into question a universal, federally sponsored do-not-track tool for the Internet saying in a hearing Thursday that it would curb profits for the Internet advertising industry,” Grant Slater of Medill News Service reports via MarketWatch.

“In a report released Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission endorsed the idea of a do-not-track system to protect consumer privacy on the Web, where advertising companies store user data in an effort to display ads targeted at their interests,” Slater. “Legislation is set to be introduced early next year by Rep. Edward Markey that would prohibit online companies from tracking children on the Internet without parental consent. ‘I assume most customers would be interested in seeing advertising that was relevant to them,’ said Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, the ranking member of the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. ‘We need to be mindful not to enact legislation that would hurt a recovering economy.'”

“The trade commission stopped short of calling for legislation in its report but did say that the industry’s attempts at self-regulation owing to privacy concerns had developed too slowly,” Slater reports. “Such a tool ‘would allow consumers to exercise choices about online tracking in a simple, persistent and universal way,’ said David Vladeck, head of the commission’s consumer protection bureau.”

“But a robust do-not-track option could hobble advertising, the Internet’s main revenue stream and one of the few growing sectors of a sluggish economy,” Slater reports. “Several Democratic representatives have said they would support some form of legislation to enforce do-not-track provisions on the Internet.”

“The major browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox, all incorporate some form of anonymity options through preferences or third-party plug-ins,” Slater reports. “The companies behind the browsers reacted coolly to the proposal, touting the privacy functions already in place and saying they would study the proposal further.”

Full article here.

53 Comments

  1. Foolish Democrats who don’t fully understand the issue?

    Check.

    Clueless Democrats who are unable to grasp the implications and consequences of a stupid proposal?

    Check.

    Idiotic Democrats who back harming one of the few growing sectors of the economy that they’ve spent into the shitter?

    Check.

    November 2, 2010?

    Check.

    November 6, 2012?

    Can’t wait!

  2. Can somebody explain to me what could possibly be wrong here? You see, I am not American, so I am incapable of making up my mind about something based on which American political party is proposing it (or which is opposing it). I just read the summary of this proposal. To me, this looks like its goal is to enable ordinary people to control how much privacy they are willing to give up. Again, as a non-American, and not really caring about American political landscape, this text seems to be aimed against corporate profiteering on the back of ordinary consumers’ privacy. As such, it seems to me that they only people that would be against it would be those who stand to lose profits they were getting by mining user web surfing data.

    The first post in this thread didn’t help much, since it read the proposal straight through the narrow political filter. So, anyone, can you explain to me how this proposal would be bad for the consumer?

  3. @ Predrag

    The first post is probably by MDN itself, which views everything through a narrow partisan lens; the editor here has 100% bad faith about anything Democrats do. If it was Bush proposing it, he or she would have said “what a brave thing for this president to stand on the side of individual liberty and privacy”. Your analysis is correct, however, especially since you are not American, the xenophobic American conservative mind thinks you are a communist for your stance against corporate profits.

    Eventually the internet generation which supports in principle privacy and net neutrality will organize and throw the right-wing bums out of office for standing against their interests so repeatedly. Unfortunately thanks to Fox News / News Corporation every Democrat that supported net neutrality lost their race last month.

  4. @First 2010, then 2012″

    Seems you ought to watch the movie “Minority Report” before you go spraying your Fox news driven drivel here.

    In my world, privacy concerns always trumps Corporate driven profits/marketing.

  5. Rethugnican Water Boys, part of a continuing series.

    Teabaggers, who now own the Rethugnican Party, are already showing their true colors as those who were elected in special elections are already serving unlike the rest who will wait until January.

    The “Taxed Enough Already” crowd voted AGAINST an extension of existing tax rates for income below $250,000- that’s right AGAINST. Why, because they want to drop another $700 Billion in BORROWED money on the debt for incomes over $250,000.

    Unemployment insurance cannot be passed unless ‘it’s paid for’ , but we can add to the debt massively to benefit the top 1% of income earners in the country. I think that’s called being a tool or a waterboy.

    By that standard, which side would you expect them to be on- data miners who spy on your browsing and sell it for profit or respecting your privacy? No brainer- always bend over for the monied crowd and screw the individual.

  6. @ Pedrag

    It’s not a bad thing for the consumer but it’s bad for business so the the consumer is the one who get’s screwed.

    If you want to understand American economics (and most countries by the way) companies always come first before anything else.

    It’s a screwed up system and it works (kind of).

    Both Right and Left politics have different views ie: the Right believes principally in what’s good for business if good for America.

    The Left believes in individual rights and freedoms, sometimes that goes against the wishes of the big powers.

    Neither is totally right and there needs to be some halfway point in between but right now things in the US are more or less crippled by the fact that the two sides refuse to work with each other almost anymore and never get anything done.

    Like a bunch of spoiled brats who forgot (or rather don’t care) who they are supposed to be working for (the People) rather then their own parties interests.

    Soooo, move along, nothing new here.

  7. It wouldn’t be bad for the consumer. Consumers ought to have control over their privacy. An economy in which the recovery is only amongst very few larger companies isn’t TRULY recovering. And yes, the first text IS very much party-based. Voting according to party isn’t the same as forming an opinion based on the facts.

  8. AdBlock
    JavaScript Blacklist
    ClickToFlash
    Incognito

    Do a little googling and find some rules to set for AdBlock to block FaceBook (even if you don’t use it.)

    If you are a Safari user, reset Safari, browse to all your usual sites, then lock down your cookie file so it cannot be modified. You can google that too as you may also want to lock down some other things.

    So the ability to browse without being followed can be accomplished with a little bit of work on your part.

    There are probably easier ways than the above, and I am sure we will hear about them

  9. @Maul
    “The Left believes in individual rights and freedoms, sometimes that goes against the wishes of the big powers.” Sorry, but I have to umbrage with this. As a Tea Party guy, I view the world as small government, lots of personal freedom (Constitutional Liberitarian) as being right wing and any form a socialism as left wing. First, I spent an extended period of time in Communist Poland, Czechosolvakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Want to talk about far left and personal freedoms there? Second, have you been to Auschwicz? This vacation spot was run by the National Socailists – again leftist who believe strongly in personal freedoms and limited government. Third, added up the carnage, in human life, of our dear Socialists (21M killed by the German’s Workers Party, 40-56M killed by our friends in the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics and 70-150M killed by that man with his “Little Red Book of Socialism) In conclusion, if you are going to claim that leftist in the US want greater personal freedoms and the right only supports the evil purposes of big business, then you sir are ignorant of history and party platforms.

  10. @First 2010 then 2012

    Republicans only real issues:

    Grant control of the US economy and government to Republican sponsors: certain major corporations.

    Check.

    Create a new inherited aristocracy by shifting the wealth of this nation from the middle class to Conservative sponsors, the already super-rich.

    Check.

    Cease programs which maintain a fair and just society, facilitating control by major corporations and much lower taxes for super wealthy.

    Check.

    Use cultural straw men to foment fear and hate among dolts like you, to make you vote against your own self interest.

    Check.

    Undermine the principles of enlightened democracy of the nation’s founders, because they get in the way of the corporations and the over-class.

    Check.

  11. What is the surprise? The Republicans always side with big business.

    So much for privacy. This is what I call the privacy tax. They take your personal information without your consent, without you even knowing about it.

    But the Republicans are all for it.

  12. Dan,

    You seem to be comparing the mono-party dictatorships of Soviet era (almost all of which are gone by now) with the progressive liberal Americans. That’s quite disingenuous, since the “leftists” of the Soviet-times communist world were leftists only by their own designation. In most of these places, they were in fact quite radically ultra-nationalist (starting with the Nazi Germany), and it would be difficult to label them as politically left-leaning from today’s perspective, regardless of how they called themselves.

    Good number of EU countries have truly left-leaning (i.e. progressive, liberal, socialist) governments in place, and those might be a better example to compare with. In that context, none of the American political movements are truly left of center; they are all right-wing, some less, others more.

    I have met several young Americans (in their 20s) who have full-time jobs (lousy ones, but still, 9-5 office thing), who cannot afford medical treatment for routine (but potentially dangerous) ailments. It boggles my mind that there is no system in place that would guarantee every citizen basic health insurance. There is nothing communist about that — it is the most basic service a modern, civilised society provides for its constituents, yet it is missing in America.

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