Rockefeller introduces Do Not Track bill

Supporters of the Do Not Track provision argue consumers shouldn’t have to opt-out of every instance of targeted online advertising individually. Web firms have argued a blanket opt-out could impede innovation and companies’ ability to individually tailor services to customers online.

Firms can still collect data on customers as long as they consent or the data is necessary to provide a service desired by those customers, and either deleted or made anonymous as soon as the service is provided.

The bill empowers the FTC to enforce the rules and seek civil penalties against violators. It also authorizes state attorneys general to seek civil penalties.

“While we spend more and more of our lives online, our ability to
control the collection, sharing and use of the information we share is
severely lacking,” said Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office.

“A ‘do not track’ list will give Americans the chance to both opt out of opportunistic marketing tactics and keep their personal information out of the hands of the government.”

The Do Not Track provision of the bill is expected to be discussed as an amendment to the Kerry-McCain bill, which has already attracted significant bipartisan support. That bill requires firms to take security precautions to protect the data they collect and to inform consumers before sharing it with third parties.

Kerry previously said a Do Not Track provision would be unnecessary because of the strong opt-out provision included in his bill, but said he is open to discussing it as an element.

He acknowledged that including Do Not Track in the first draft may have jeopardized the industry support from the likes of eBay, Intel, HP, and Microsoft.

This story was updated at 4:25 p.m.

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