May 8, 2011

Lawmakers Propose ‘Do Not Track’ Legislation

Lawmakers said on Friday they will introduce "Do Not Track" legislation that will allow Internet users to block companies from gathering information about online activities.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, said his "Do Not Track Online Act of 2011" will be a "simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their every move on the Internet."

"Consumers have a right to know when and how their personal and sensitive information is being used online -- and most importantly to be able to say 'no thanks' when companies seek to gather that information without their approval," Rockefeller said in a statement.

Congressman Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, along with Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, released a draft of a separate "Do Not Track" bill that aims at protecting children online.

Senators John Kerry and John McCain introduced a similar online privacy bill last month.

They said their bill seeks to strike a balance between protecting the personal information of Web users and the needs of businesses to conduct electronic commerce.

The new legislation comes amid a time of high-profile theft incidents, including the theft of personal information from over 100 million Sony PlayStation Network users.

Apple and Google will both attend a congressional hearing on privacy this week following claims the iPhone and Android devices regularly track a user's location and stores data.

"We look forward to engaging with policymakers about how we protect our users' mobile privacy," Google said in an email to AFP.

Apple has denied tracking iPhone users, but said that maintaining locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers was used for services like navigation.

Barton and Markey said their "Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011" establishes new protections for the personal information of children and teenagers.

"For millions of kids today, the Internet is their new 21st century playground," Markey said in a statement. "But kids growing up in this online environment also need protection from the dangers that can lurk in cyberspace."

The bill would require online companies to obtain parental consent before collecting children's personal information and prohibit them from using personal information of children and teens for targeted marketing.


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