“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.