(WASHINGTON) -- People concerned that every move they make on the Internet is being followed by advertising networks have an ally in the Federal Trade Commission, which supports tougher restrictions on online data gathering. The FTC Wednesday endorsed a “Do Not Track” setting in browsers that would enable users to block online ad companies from gathering information on them.
Despite the industry’s insistence that it can police its own actions, the head of the nation’s top consumer protection agency says he doesn’t believe it.
FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz charged that “industry efforts to address privacy through self-regulation have been too slow, and up to now have failed to provide adequate and meaningful protection.”
An effort called the National Advertising Initiative, which supposedly allows users to opt out of advertising networks that track their movements, hasn’t been successful, according to Leibowitz. Therefore, the FTC proposed a user-friendly “do not track” option that enables people to tell any website not to track them for advertising purposes. Leibovitz wants browser makers such as Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple to devise “do not track” technology for its customers.
Since the idea is in the planning stages, much needs to be worked out in the meantime, including whether the government can force the online advertising industry to comply without congressional action.
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