Rep. Speier to introduce 'do not track' bill next week

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) plans to introduce an online privacy bill next week directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to begin a "do not track" program for online advertisers, a Speier aide told The Hill. 

The program would enable consumers to "opt out" of tracking by online advertisers. The aide said the bill is narrowly tailored to address tracking issues only, rather than the broader question of online privacy. It provides a floor, rather than a ceiling, for privacy law, so it does not pre-empt additional legislation in the future.

Speier's office worked with a host of pro-privacy groups on the bill, including Consumer Watchdog, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others. 

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) is also planning to reintroduce his privacy bill next week. His bill does not include a "do not track" mechanism; however, it provides a safe harbor for marketers who participate in such a federal program if one is created. Speier's bill does not include a safe harbor. 

The FTC released its own privacy report last year, throwing its weight behind a "do not track" system. David Vladeck, the FTC consumer protection director, told Congress in a December hearing that "do not track" legislation could help protect consumers, since many are unaware they are being tracked. It might also simplify individuals' efforts to keep their online data private. 

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