Rockefeller to roll out 'Do Not Track' bill

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) plans to introduce a bill next week aimed at protecting consumer privacy on the Internet, he announced Friday.  

The Senate Commerce Committee chairman, who has taken top Internet companies to task for neglecting privacy concerns, will introduce legislation that contains a "Do Not Track" provision and gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to take enforcement action against companies that do not honor consumer requests.

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It is likely to gain strong support from consumer groups that saw the lack of a "Do Not Track" provision in a privacy bill from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) as a glaring omission. That legislation, released in April, drew strong industry support, but failed to appease top privacy advocates. 

Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, commended Rockefeller for the legislation. "Chairman Rockefeller understands 'Do Not Track' is perhaps the most important way to ensure consumer privacy is protected on the Internet," he said. 

Rockefeller's bill aims to balance prospective industry concerns by allowing companies to collect minimal information for those consumers who opt against tracking. The goal is to ensure the websites remains effective and free online content can continue to flourish while requiring the company destroy or anonymize the information when it is no longer needed. 

“Consumers have a right to know when and how their personal and sensitive information is being used online — and most importantly, to be able to say, ‘No thanks’ when companies seek to gather that information without their approval," Rockefeller said. "This bill will offer a simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their every move on the Internet."

Rockefeller, who has held several privacy hearings, is planning an additional hearing for May.