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FTC Wants Do-Not-Track List for Online Ads

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Posted July 28, 2010 By Kenneth Corbin     Feedback

The FTC wants a browser-based tool that could block behavioral tracking across the Web.

The FTC is considering giving consumers the option of opting out of online behavioral tracking, which would have a huge impact on online advertising and marketing. eCommerce Guide has the scoop.


As it prepares a major report with guidelines for protecting consumer privacy online, the Federal Trade Commission is mulling a simple mechanism that would allow users to opt out of behavioral tracking across the Web, the head of the agency told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the system would be similar to the Do-Not-Call registry that enables consumers to shield their phone numbers from telemarketers.

The agency has been conducting a series of workshops regarding online privacy and advertising for several months, and plans to release a report detailing its recommendations later this fall. Throughout those sessions, Leibowitz said that staffers consistently heard from consumers and advocacy groups that online privacy controls need to be simpler than the current options.

"To this end, one idea we may explore in the context of behavioral advertising is a do-not-track mechanism that's more comprehensive and easier to use than the procedures currently available," Leibowitz told members of the Senate Commerce Committee. "Under such a mechanism, users could opt out of behavioral advertising more easily rather than having to make choices on website-by-website basis."

It's an issue that could have a potentially dramatic impact on everyone from website publishers to ecommerce marketers. Industry coalitions involving some of the largest Internet players have developed tools for consumers to opt out of behavioral tracking across their sites and ad networks, but Leibowitz suggested a browser-based tool that would give users the option of blocking data collection across the Web.

But he acknowledged, with some disappointment, that the FTC is limited in the extent to which it can exercise oversight authority over the online advertising industry.

Read the full story, FTC Leaning Toward Do-Not-Track List for Online Ads, at eCommerce Guide.

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