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FTC Proposes “Do Not Track” Tool

by Tom Moccia | December 10, 2010December 10, 2010 10:00 am PST

It wasn’t long ago that telemarketers could unscrupulously bombard you with calls to buy this, that or the other thing. It became quite annoying, so much so, that if you recall, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) created the “National Do Not Call Registry”, where once consumers registered their phone number, companies that did not have an existing business relationship with you were prohibited from soliciting you via the telephone.

This registry has protected the consumer fairly well and has all but eliminated telemarketing calls in my household. With that form of marketing eliminated companies have needed to find other ways to get you their message, thus the problem web surfers are having now. Companies are now resorting to tracking your online activities and gaining information in order to target their online marketing campaigns.

This form of marketing may go the route of telemarketing if the FTC has anything to say about it. Federal regulators are proposing a “Do Not Track” too for Internet users that would prevent marketers from trackingfederal-trade-commission-ftc-logo_jpg their Web browsing habits and other behavior online in order to target their advertising.

The “Do Not Track” proposal is just a piece of a larger report that lays out framework for protecting consumers both online and off as personal data collection continuously seems to infiltrate our lives, often without our knowledge.

FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz said, “the marketing industry has not done nearly enough to make sure people understand what personal information is being collected, or to provide them adequate control over that data collection.” Chairman Leibowitz sees the Do Not Track tool as an important way to give consumers control and opt out of a lot of the tracking that occurs.

With all this apparent sneakiness from advertisers, there are some groups that are self regulating data collection. Leading trade group IAB has launched a program that places an icon inside the online ad of participating companies. Clicking the icon takes consumers to a Website that provides information about what type of data is collected and gives consumers the ability to opt out of such tracking advertising.

The software proposed by the FTC is still in the testing stage, and browser companies have been cooperative in helping the development process. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of “Do Not Track” list and software to help online users opt out of behavioral advertising some day in the future.

Does the fact data about your online habits is being collected by advertisers and used to target market bother you or do you just consider it a byproduct of Web surfing?


Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...

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