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Feds may tighten privacy protections

'Do-not-track' mulled

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The Obama administration is reportedly considering a stepped-up approach to enforcing privacy on the internet that includes new laws and the creation of a new post to make sure they are enforced.

According to an article published Friday in The Wall Street Journal, the strategy is expected to be unveiled in a report to be issued by the US Commerce Department in the coming weeks. It is being prepared as the the White House prepares a task force to help the department translate the recommendations into policy.

A separate report expected to be issued by the Federal Trade Commission may call for the online industry to develop a so-called do-not-track tool that people could use to remove themselves from online surveillance by marketers and others. While details remain slim, the proposal in some ways resembles legislation being mulled by the European Commission that would bestow citizens with a “right to be forgotten” that effectively would allow them to demand that their data be deleted.

Giving the US privacy watchdogs sharper teeth is by no means a sure thing. Conservative legislators are loath to give the FTC more enforcement powers, and privacy advocates aren't likely to back legislation that lacks such powers. Representatives of the online ad industry have long argued they can police themselves just fine. ®

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