Federal Trade Commission Privacy Report Backs Do Not Track, A Key Policy Goal Of Consumer Watchdog

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Federal Trade Commission Privacy Report Backs Do Not Track, A Key Policy Goal Of Consumer Watchdog

    Agency Also Calls for Data Broker Legislation

    SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog praised the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy report released today supporting a Do Not Track Mechanism that will help give people control of the collection and use of their personal data when they are online.

    Consumer Watchdog has waged a two-year war to get Do Not Track to the top of the consumer privacy reform list. Tactics have ranged from a demonstration in the Dirksen Senate Office Building to a digital billboard in New York’s Times Square to policy conferences the nonprofit, nonpartisan group sponsored in Washington.

    “Those efforts are paying off. The FTC’s support of Do Not Track means that consumers should have a meaningful way to control the tracking of their online activities by the end of the year,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project.

    The Commission’s call for legislation to provide control over data brokers is an important step, Consumer Watchdog said.

    “Data brokers buy, compile and sell a wealth of highly personal information about you, but there’s no way to find out what they have or if it’s correct.  That’s why the FTC’s call for legislation in this area is so important,” said Simpson.

    The FTC’s privacy framework is built on three principles:

    – Privacy by Design – companies should build in consumers’ privacy protections at every stage in developing their products.
    – Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers – companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom. This should include a Do Not Track mechanism.
    – Greater Transparency – companies should disclose details about their collection and use of consumers’ information, and provide consumers access to the data collected about them.
    “FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz got it right when he said as he released the report that nobody should put something on a consumer’s computer without their permission,” added Simpson.

    “Do Not Track will give people more faith in the Internet,” said Simpson. “That will be a win-win for business and consumers.”

    Simpson is an “invited expert” taking part in the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Tracking Protection Working Group, which is setting Internet standards for how a Do Not Track message would be sent and what the obligations would be of a site that receives the message.

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