Good news: Do Not Track bill to be introduced in Senate

Consumer Action welcomes Sen. Rockefeller's Do Not Track Online Act of 2011

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Today Consumer Action, in expectation of the introduction of US Senator Jay Rockefeller’s Do Not Track Online Act of 2011, applauds the bill's straight-forward approach to giving consumers meaningful privacy rights when they use the Internet.

Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Committee On Commerce, Science and Transportation, has said that his bill will help consumers know how and when their sensitive and personal information is being used by companies who track them online. Under the legislation, online businesses would be required to give consumers the opportunity to opt-out of information tracking. The bill would require opt out for Internet and mobile network tracking.

“Consumer Action has long sought a reliable and mandatory Do Not Track mechanism, which will help consumers use the Internet with the confidence that they have the right to control personal information collected about them,” said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action. “The draft of the legislation that we reviewed last week appears to offer strong protections that, if passed, will give consumers meaningful new privacy rights.”

The draft legislation reviewed by Consumer Action directs the Federal Trade Commission to write Do Not Track rules and gives the FTC the power to take legal action against businesses that don’t give consumers the opportunity to opt out of online tracking.

In addition, the legislation would limit the time a company could retain data about consumers before being required to delete the data or make it anonymous.

It also gives state attorneys general the right to bring actions under the federal law to protect the citizens of their states.

Consumer Action acknowledges that a number of browsers including Google, Mozilla and Microsoft now allow consumers to opt out of online data collection. “It’s great to see name-brand Internet companies taking the initiative to voluntarily give consumers mechanisms to avoid being tracked,” said Sherry. “But these tools are only voluntary, and do not have the teeth called for in Senator Rockefeller’s legislation. There are many companies involved in the online tracking space and consumers desperately need a ‘one stop shop’ for protecting their privacy online.

Consumer Action also supports Rep. Jackie Speier’s  “Do Not Track Me Online Act” introduced earlier this year in the House.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on financial education that empowers low to moderate income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.

By providing financial education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, and an Annual Credit Card Survey, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. More than 8,000 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials, and support.

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