FTC Commissioner: ‘Tremendous Momentum’ For ‘Do Not Track’ Mechanisms

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Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill said Monday that there is an international push for technical ways to prevent websites from tracking the movements of consumers online and that the amount of tracking of individual behavior has reached an “unprecedented” level.

“There is tremendous momentum internationally for do-not-track mechanisms,” Brill said.

“We want to build a rich online environment where individuals can make meaningful choices about how they present themselves to the world, and that can only come about when individuals control information about what we say, where we go and what we do in cyberspace, mobile space and beyond,” Brill said.“The amount of tracking of an individual’s behavior online — what sites she visits, what ads she clicks on, what she says when she chats and where she wanders through the day — is unprecedented,” Brill said.

Ed Felten, the FTC’s Chief Technology Office, spoke on a panel at the Center for American Progress following Brill’s keynote address.

“Basically what we’re talking about at a nuts-and-bolts level is giving users, or in the case of younger children — parents, better control and choice over the ability of sites that the user visits or third-parties accumulate records of what users do over time or over websites,” Felten said. “The question is how to provide choice that’s meaningful for users about that.”

Rather than trying to fight each new technology one-by-one, it makes sense to have a single use mechanism that applies across the board, Felten said.

CAP held the discussion forum as lawmakers on Capitol Hill and regulators themselves figure out how to best approach the issue of consumer privacy as applications using our data to provide a service become increasingly emdedded in our lives.