POLL: To Track or Not to Track? Do You Care Who’s Watching You?

FTC recommends a �privacy by design� approach to internet browsing

The Federal Trade Commission released a report last week recommending that Congress implement laws that would build privacy protections for consumers who are surfing the Internet. Every day as consumers jump from website to website, advertisers track their movement, interests, habits, purchases and much more by using information–laden cookies, which are silently encrypted in the exchange of web URLs.

The FTC report, called “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers”, says that a “Do Not Track” mechanism built into browsers could present consumers with a choice about what data of theirs is collected and shared.

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“The FTC wants to help ensure that the…information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “We believe that’s what most Americans want as well.”

If made into law, such a mechanism could have a negative impact on revenue generated from advertising-supported content on the Internet, or it could “result in consumers receiving more unwanted advertising such as pop-up ads that are not targeted to a user’s interests,” testified Daniel Castro, senior analyst of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, at a House hearing on the subject. He also believes a do-not-track mandate would mean less free internet content and services.

Do-Not-Track is not a law yet, but Bobby Rush (D-Ill), the Chairman for the House Subcommittee for Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, is weighing whether to include a do-not-track proposal in privacy legislation he plans to re-introduce in the 112th Congress.

The FTC is also accepting public comments on the report until January 31, 2011, but BlackEnterprise.com wants to know what you think. Do you think it is an invasion of your privacy for company’s to collect your information or could you care less as long as you get the information you need?

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