Consumer Watchdog Says Congress Must Act Now On “Do Not Track Me”

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Consumer Watchdog Says Congress Must Act Now On “Do Not Track Me”

    WASHINGTON DC — The Federal Trade Commission repeated its support today for a “Do Not Track Me” mechanism to protect consumer online privacy and Consumer Watchdog called on Congress to pass legislation necessary to implement the safeguard.

    Speaking at Consumer Watchdog’s Future of Online Consumer Protections Conference in Washington DC on Wednesday, David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said Congressional action would be needed to implement “Do Not Track Me.”

    Testifying at a Congressional hearing today Vladeck said a “Do Not Track Me” mechanism is “feasible and enforceable.”

    “Do Not Track Me is not a panacea, but it would offer clear easy-to-use privacy protection for consumers,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google Project. “Congress should act immediately to give the FTC the necessary rule making and enforcement authority to implement it.  It would be a win-win for consumers and businesses alike.”

    If Congress stalls on the privacy issue, then states could push to protect online privacy.

    “As a ballot measure backer who knows the public wants these protections, I for one am ready to move in California to make a “Do Not Track Me” mechanism mandatory,” said Jamie Court, President of the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group. “If Congress doesn’t act, we will go to the ballot.”

    Consumer Watchdog has a long successful history with California’s initiative process. The organization’ founder, Harvey Rosenfield, wrote Proposition 103, which enacted the toughest rate regulation for auto, homeowners and business insurance in the nation, and has saved California motorists $62 billion since its passage in 1988.

    At the Consumer Watchdog conference Daniel Weitzner of the Department of Commerce said current online privacy protection is inadequate. He also testified at today’s Congressional hearing.

    Also at Wednesday’s Future of Online Protections Conference, panelists said:

    — Top priorities to protect medical privacy include a law protecting medical data wherever it is, and placing medical privacy at the top of the agenda for the new White House privacy initiative.

    — U.S. regulators are monitoring Google Inc.’s business practices and may yet follow the European Union’s lead by launching an antitrust investigation.

    — Copyright law must be revised to reflect the digital age while protecting creators’ works.

    Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.

    Read the conference agenda here:

    Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.  Consumer Watchdog’s website is Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website:

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