February 23, 2012, 12:06 PM

Do-not-track web privacy efforts gain momentum

Google and the White House announce online privacy moves.

Allison Enright

Editor

Lead Photo

President Obama proposed today a “bill of rights” aimed at protecting consumers’ privacy that would give consumers more control over how their information is collected and used online. The White House also says leading Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and major ad networks, have agreed to abide by do-not-track requests made by online shoppers.

Following the announcement, the Digital Advertising Alliance, an umbrella group of seven trade associations representing the online marketing industry, said it is beginning to develop tools that enable consumers using  web browsers software to make their privacy preferences easily known. The Digital Advertising Alliance says it expects the program to be ready in nine months. The Alliance is the group behind the AdChoices program that lets consumers opt out of having ads targeted to them based on their online behavior

Google says it will embed a “do-not-track” button in its Chrome web browser that will let users restrict the amount of data collected about them. Google did not say when the button would begin to appear, and the search engine declined to detail how exactly the button would work. "We’re pleased to join a broad industry agreement to respect the ‘Do Not Track’ header in a consistent and meaningful way that offers users choice and clearly explained browser controls,” says Google senior vice president of advertising Susan Wojcicki.

A browser-based do-not-track button is different from the online advertising industry’s previous effort to address privacy concerns through self-regulation, the voluntary program from the Digital Advertising Alliance called AdChoices. Participants in the AdChoices program are supposed to display a trademarked Advertising Options icon on advertisements shown to consumers based on their online behavior. Clicking the icon connected consumers to a web site where they could read more about how their data is used for advertising purposes and opt out of receiving these kinds of targeted ads. The browser-based option would be a clearer and simpler way to tell consumers about how their data is used online, the Digital Advertising Alliance says.

The browser-based do-not-track effort supports elements of a consumer privacy “bill of rights” outlined by President Obama today. The document emphasizes an individual’s right to control the personal data about them that is collected how it is used, and that consumers have access to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices. The White House says the next step is for the U.S. Commerce Department to work with companies, consumer advocates, technical experts and academics, among others, to find ways to implement these rights.

The White House plan follows the introduction of several bills in Congress that address consumers’ online privacy.  

April Anderson, industry director for retail at Google, will speak June 6 at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

Comments | 2 Responses

  • OBAMANISTAS HATE BUSINESS. WHAT A SURPRISE! I find it astounding though, alas, not surprising that the Obama administration though fully committed to the IRS having the right to the financial equivalent of a prostatic or pelvic examination on each and every American, objects to somebody knowing what brand of scented candles, IT products, or toilet paper one may happen to like. This is simply another manifestation of the anti-commercial prejudice among the ivory tower left wing theorists running the current government. For all their protestations, they HATE business. They also HATE the Internet along with most modern technology, except as a possible cow to be “milked” for taxes and a venue for their collectivist propaganda. Oh yes, and a means of CONTROL via governmental spying on all online activity by Americans. Just take a look at the dirty hirsute leftist “rent a mob” denizen of the administration created “Occupy” movement. Though they carry expensive laptops, smart phones, tablets etc (presumably bought with mommy and daddy’s money) to their “revolutionary” socialist rallies, the continually decry all forms of commerce not controlled by the state, right in tune with the Obama administration. As true “reactionaries,” Obama & Co. are determined to return our society-economy to the late 1940’s; the “golden age” when workers all belonged to unions, lived in central cities, worked in factories, travelled in public transit, and heavily relied on the government. The freedom online transactions as well as communications avail is anathema. Got to keep the “proles” in their place. But fear not! Our national Marxist nightmare will end this November. Everybody in the online commerce community has a responsibility to help this happen! Four years from now may be too late!

  • I think it's not about denying the ability to know what candle you like but rather putting the control of who knows in your hands. The best decisions are usually informed decisions. At the least disclosing they are capturing your info if you use their service so that, again, you get to choose. I like having the knowledge and understanding up front so if I want to share I can, but have the choice to not share if that's more my style. I believe this is a response to the large number of people surprised that their info was being tapped and shared without a disclosure up front.. That info collected with others will make those collecting the info very wealthy and even though you provided that info you won't get a dime.

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