Creeped Out By How Much Online Giants Seem to Know About You?

A bill under consideration in Congress could create a 'do not track' registry and enforcement mechanisms to limit collection and use of personal information.

Creeped Out By How Much Online Giants Seem to Know About You? Photo (cc) by Franco Bouly

Worried about how Facebook, Google and Amazon seem to know what you want before you do? The Federal Government could be stepping in to help. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that could lead to a ‘do not track’ registry for Internet traffic.

If enacted, the bill (S. 2404) would mandate that the Federal Trade Commission would have one year to develop regulations that would lead to some sort of do not track system online. The bill states that there would need to be a simple, easy way to indicate whether or not you want companies to be able to track your movements online. It further stipulates that if you do opt out, companies shouldn’t treat you any differently.

The bill lays out an exception in the case of information that must be collected in order to perform a service, but mandates that it then be deleted or made anonymous. It also gives the FTC direction on factors to consider as it makes the rules.

The bill would allow the FTC, or the attorneys general of the various states, to enforce the act. It sets a maximum fine for $16,000 per day, and a total fine (per violation) of $15 million.

Don’t get too excited about the idea, though; Govtrack.us gives the bill a 4 percent chance of being enacted.

The bill now goes to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. No hearings have yet been scheduled.

Would you join a ‘do not track’ registry if one existed? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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