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Do Not Track list proposed in FTC report on online privacy

December 2nd, 2010

Capitol BuildingWASHINGTON, DC – Are you concerned about your activities or those of your children being tracked by marketers? A recommendation from the Federal Trade Commission report proposes creating a “Do Not Track” list similar to the existing Do Not Call list that would help consumers protect their privacy.

The proposal suggests that web companies voluntarily create the do-not-track mechanism.

It was only one proposal in the FTC report, which is intended, among other things, to guide lawmakers as they tackle the increasingly complex problem of consumer privacy in the digital age.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the FTC wants to help ensure that the information marketplace is built on a framework promoting privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice.

The issue is of growing concern as digital marketers increasingly track the online behavior of consumers, including their actual location via cell phones and online services such as Facebook or Twitter.

I suspect it will be much harder to enforce a Do Not Track list than it is a Do Not Call list.

The number of marketing calls I received dropped dramatically after I put my name on the Do Not Call list and people bothered by cookies and marketing ploys online might be tempted to sign up in droves.

On the other hand, many of us take proactive measures now to ensure the level of privacy we want online, such as deleting tracking cookies regularly or preventing them from downloading.

Personally, I prefer marketers to deliver ads or offers tailored to my personal tastes and needs. Seeing the same ad for some service or product I have no interest in every time I go to a web site becomes annoying, and I’ve often wondered how long we’ll get the “Skip this ad” option common on larger sites now.

What I would like to see is a do not track option on every web page I visit that applies, perhaps, just to that company or publication.

— Allan Maurer

TJS Editor/writer Allan Maurer: Email Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

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