Consumer Watchdog Calls On Gov. Brown To Sign ‘Do Not Track’ Legislation, But Cautions Law Is Only A Step Towards Knowledge, Not Full Consumer Power

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a Do Not Track bill just passed by the State Legislature because it is a step towards consumer knowledge, but the public interest group added that ultimately consumers must have the right to simply say “no” to online tracking.

The bill, AB 370, requires a website or online service to disclose how it responds when it receives a “Do Not Track” message. It doesn’t require that the website honor a Do Not Track request, but the website would have to explain its procedures in its privacy policy. The bill also requires a website to disclose if third parties gather a consumer’s data when the website is visited.

“This is a step forward because knowledge is

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a step towards power, but ultimately we need the power to simply say ‘no’ to being tracked,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “Right now the sad reality is that all the web browsers can send the Do Not Track message, but nobody has to listen and we don’t know whether anybody is. When this bill becomes law, consumers will know who respects their privacy request and who ignores them. Based on that knowledge they can take action.”

Consumer Watchdog said it has become clear that most companies won’t honor a Do Not Track request in a meaningful way unless they are legally required to do so.

AB 370 was carried by Assemblyman Al Muratuschi and sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris. The Assembly concurred with Senate amendments to the bill on Monday with a vote of 71 to 0. It passed the Senate on Friday.

Read the bill here:

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Published by John M. Simpson

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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