Rockefeller Submits Do Not Track Online Act

Legislation Would Give FTC and States Power to Enforce
Rockefeller Submits Do Not Track Online Act
A bill to allow consumers to opt out of online tracking gives the Federal Trade Commission and states attorneys general the power to enforce the Do Not Track Online Act of 2011 if the legislation becomes law.

If states take action, they must inform the FTC. If the FTC decides to intervene, state law enforcement action is precluded. Violators would be subject to civil penalties.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, as promised (see Bill Aims to Protect Personal Info Online), introduced Monday the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011, a bill to give consumers the ability to safeguard their privacy by opting out of having their online activities tracked by Internet companies.

The West Virginia Democrat, in a statement, said the bill has been endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Consumer Watchdog, Consumer Action and the Center for Digital Democracy. "Consumers have a right to decide whether their information can be collected and used online," said Rockefeller, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. "This bill offers a simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their movements online."

The bill would establish a framework that allows consumers not to have their online activities tracked and, with limited exceptions, prohibits online providers from doing so if that's what individuals choose. The bill would apply to mobile devices, too.

The Federal Trade Commission would be required to issue two regulations within a year of the bill's enactment. One rule would establish standards for the implementation of a Do-Not-Track mechanism in which individuals could simply and easily indicate a preference that personal information not be collected by providers of online services. The second rule would prohibit providers from collecting personal information from those individuals who have expressed such a preference.

The legislation also would allow providers to gather personal information from individuals who have implemented the Do-Not-Track mechanism if the information is necessary to provide a service requested by the individual and the information is anonymized or deleted as soon as that service is provided or the individual is given clear notice that data will be collected and that the consumer agrees to that use.

Not-for-profit organizations would fall under provisions of the bill, overriding a general exemption of not-for-profit organizations under the FTC Act.

Within two years of enactment, the FTC would be required to review implementation of the law by assessing the effectiveness of its regulations on online commerce.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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