OVERNIGHT TECH: Advertisers blamed for failed 'Do Not Track'

THE LEDE: Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz is accusing advertisers of backing away from their promise to allow users to opt out of online tracking

Leibowitz told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the advertising industry “appears to be backing off from its commitments.”

ADVERTISEMENT
At a high-profile event at the White House in February, all of the major Web browsers promised to create a "Do Not Track" feature, and the leading advertisers said that by the end of the year, they would stop displaying targeted ads to users who had selected the feature in their browsers.

But the agreement has broken down over the details of how Do Not Track would work. Advertisers are insisting on exceptions for "market research," "product development," "system management" and other purposes.

Leibowitz told the Journal that the exceptions would create “a loophole to Do Not Track that you could drive a virtual truck through.”

He said he is still hoping that privacy groups and advertisers will be able to reach an agreement at a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) meeting in Amsterdam this week. 

But the Digital Advertising Alliance sent a letter to the W3C on Tuesday, ripping the proposed Do Not Track standards.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The public interest is not served by this expansion of the W3C’s efforts, especially because the method by which the W3C is seeking to achieve results is not through consensus and gives all stakeholders equal standing in the process regardless of whether or not certain groups play a disproportionately large role in the Internet ecosystem," the advertising group wrote. "This flawed approach will result in an outcome that will significantly undermine the Internet and existing consumer benefits."

FTC to announce computer scam crackdown: The Federal Trade Commission will announce a crackdown on a "massive" international computer tech scam on Wednesday morning, officials said.

The scam swindled tens of thousands of consumers in six countries, according to the media advisory. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz will join a senior Microsoft executive and officials from Canada and Australia to make the announcement.

Commerce partners with Cornell: The Commerce Department announced a partnership with Cornell University on Tuesday to develop new technologies.

A permanent Commerce official will work from Cornell's New York City Tech Campus to help students and researchers bring new products to market.

“Staying on the cutting edge of innovation is critical to this nation’s long-term competitiveness, and the Obama administration is committed to ensuring that American entrepreneurs have the resources they need to bring their ideas to market,” Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a statement. “The resources we’ll provide at Cornell University’s New York City Tech campus are a natural extension of the Administration’s commitment to removing the barriers that get in the way of more jobs and more innovation."

Republicans oppose cybersecurity order: A group of Senate Republicans urged President Obama on Tuesday not to issue an executive order on cybersecurity, arguing that only congressional action can adequately protect the nation's computer systems.

The letter was signed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

T-Mobile may merge with MetroPCS: Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, said on Tuesday that it is in talks to buy MetroPCS.

The move would boost the size of T-Mobile, the fourth largest wireless carrier, as it tries to take on dominant competitors AT&T and Verizon.

FTC wins $163 million fine over fake viruses: A federal court fined a woman $163 million on Tuesday for tricking people into thinking their computers were infected with viruses and then selling them software to fix the non-existent problem.

FCC fines calling card company: The Federal Communications Commission issued a $5 million fine on Tuesday against NobelTel, claiming the prepaid calling card company deceived consumers.

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has cracked down on deceptive marketing for calling cards in the past year, issuing $30 million in fines against six companies.