Sen. Rockefeller Introduces Do-Not-Track Legislation

Lora Bentley
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Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

Monday I wrote about the discussion draft of the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011. Released by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas), the proposed legislation would, among other things, require websites to obtain parental consent before collecting information on individuals younger than 18. It would also require websites to provide a mechanism by which parents can "erase" any data previously collected on their children.

 

On the Senate side, John (Jay) Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has introduced a much more comprehensive do-not-track bill. And according to Ars Technica, privacy advocates are quite pleased with the offering. Writer Jacqui Cheng explains:

[T]he Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 ... would create a "universal legal obligation" for companies to honor users' opt-out requests on the Internet and mobile devices, and would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to take action against companies that don't comply.

Groups from Consumer Protection to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse approve of the bill, the story says, largely because it gives the FTC flexibility in creating "a persistent opt-out mechanism." Those same groups did not have great things to say about the Internet privacy legislation recently introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.). Apparently the bill gives the Department of Commerce more power than they would like.

 

Given that most of the major players in the browser space have already built in or are in the process of adding do-not-track mechanisms to their offerings, not to mention the wide support for do-not-track from the Obama administration, it's safe to say some iteration of Rockefeller's proposal will become law eventually. Whether the final version will still pass muster with privacy groups, however, remains to be seen.



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