Originally published: November 11, 2010
Last updated: November 11, 2010 - 4:30pm
The Federal Trade Commission is considering proposing a do-not-track mechanism that would allow consumers to easily opt out of all online behavioral advertising. But the agency lacks the authority to mandate do-not-track.
Yes, the FTC can certainly say it thinks that Web companies should figure out a way to implement a universal do-not-track program, but can't do much more absent new legislation. And a do-not-track registry wouldn't stop marketers from sending online ads to people. Instead, it would prevent marketers from trailing people online and delivering ads based on users' Web history. What's more, any ad network that belongs to the Network Advertising Initiative already is (or should be) honoring a do-not-target mechanism -- the NAI opt-out cookie that allows people to opt out of behavioral advertising. Of course, the NAI program has a few drawbacks. One is that not every company participates. Another is that consumers often delete their cookies -- including their opt-out cookies. Yet another drawback, explains Jim Brock at Privacy Choice, is that companies who participate in the NAI program promise only that they won't send consumers targeted ads, not that they won't track users. Still, in principle, the NAI already offers something similar to what the FTC is touting, but on a smaller scale. Expanding that program might mean that more companies are honoring consumers' privacy preferences, but wouldn't mark a departure from existing self-regulatory principles.
- FTC's Vladeck: More Privacy Actions On The Way
- Why Do-Not-Track Isn't The Same As Do-Not-Call
- Biz Groups: Mandate Will Undercut Self-Regulation Program
- Study: Consumers Define Do-Not-Track More Broadly Than Web Companies
- The Dissent: Why One FTC Commissioner Thinks Do Not Track Is Off-Track
- Chairman Rockefeller Introduces Do-Not-Track Online Act
- Opting out of targeted ads too hard, privacy advocates say
- Study finds 12.5% of companies violating own do-not-track policies
- In Online Privacy Plan, the Opt-Out Question Looms
- Do-Not-Track Hearing Recap
- Consumer Groups Urge Tougher Online Privacy Regime
- FTC Puts an End to Tactics of Online Advertising Company That Deceived Consumers Who Wanted to "Opt Out" from Targeted Ads
- Browser add-on locks out targeted advertising
- Time to Reclaim Your Name?
- 'Persistence' is the theory behind Do-Not-Track shout-out in Rush bill