Support for Do Not Track Me legislation is growing in Washington with the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission telling ABC's Good Morning America on Friday that "one of the things we are thinking about is a Do Not Track List."
The idea is to allow consumers to opt out of having their Web
activities tracked by companies wanting to to target them with ads. According to a recent study by The Wall Street Journal,
50 of the most popular U.S. websites are placing intrusive tracking
technologies on visitors' computers — in some cases, more than 100
tracking tools at a time.
Chairman Jon Leibowitz was interviewed just before Common Sense Media released a Zogby International poll nof
parents and teens revealing that three out of four parents say that
social networks aren’t doing a good job of protecting kids’ online
privacy. Sites popular with kids and teens place even more tracking
technologies on users' computers than sites aimed at adults.
The Zogby International poll also found that 91 percent of parents
think that search engines, like Google, and social networking sites, like
Facebook, should not be able to share kids' physical location with
other companies until parents give authorization.
In the Good Morning America Interview Leibowitz also referred
to his agency's much anticipated report on protecting consumers' online
privacy that the FTC is now expected to issue after the mid-term
Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-AK,
has been working on Do Not Track Me legislation that would create a way
to block tracking that would be analogous to the Do Not Call List
covering telemarketers and administered by the FTC. An aide told me
that it will be released after the election.
In the House Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.,
chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and
Consumer Protection, plans to hold hearings after the election on his
online privacy bill and examine the possibility of adding a Do Not Track
provision, according to Tim Robinson, counsel to Rush's subcommittee.
The Zogby poll was released by Common Sense Media as it launched a
"Protect our Privacy -- Protect Our Kids Campaign." Here are some key
- Three quarters of parents (75%) say they would rate the job that
social networks are doing to protect children’s online privacy as
negative. In addition, a majority of parents (68%) say they're not at
all confident in search engines keeping their private information safe
and secure, and 71% of parents say they're not confident in social
networking sites keeping their private information safe and secure.
- A vast majority of parents (88%) say they would support a law that
required online search engines and social networking services to get
users' permission before they use personal information to market
products – a scenario often called allowing users to “opt-in.” A vast
majority of teens (85%) say that online search engines and social
networking services should be required to get permission before using
personal information to market products to them.
- Two-thirds of parents (67%) believe that their personal information
is not secure and private online. A majority of teens say they don't
feel their personal information is secure and private online or they're
not sure if it is, while 44% say they think such information is secure.
- Nearly all parents say they would take more time to read terms and
conditions for websites if they were shorter and written in clear
language. A vast majority of teens (85%) say they would take more time
to read the terms and conditions for websites and other online services
if they were shorter and written in clear language.
- The vast majority of respondents say that search engines and online
social networking sites should not be able to share their physical
location with other companies before they have given specific
authorization, while a strong majority of teens (81%) say the same.
- 85% of parents say they're more concerned about online privacy than
they were five years ago, and 69% of parents believe online privacy is a
shared responsibility of individuals and online companies.
- 79% of teens think their friends share too much personal information online.
Those findings jibe with our July poll by Grove Insight
that shows consumers concerned about online privacy protection and
eager to support legislative action to ensure their privacy is
protected. Despite the huffing and puffing from the online industry, I'd say its a question of not whether rules will be enacted, but when. I'm betting by next spring.