Feeds

California Do-Not-Track web privacy law moves forward

Browser alone isn't tough enough

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

Companies trading online in California could soon be forced by law to give consumers the right not to be tracked across the web.

State politicians Tuesday voted to move forward a proposed bill that would see California's top law enforcement officials draw up rules protecting shoppers' online privacy by July 1 2012.

California's Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move the bill, SB 761 introduced by Democrat senator Alan Lowenthal, to its next stage in the ratification process.

The bill would order web sites based in California and dealing with California residents to give shoppers the right to not have their online activity tracked, stored or sold to others. Sites that fail to do so would become liable to prosecution by consumers through a civil action.

If approved, SB 761 would require the state's Attorney General to have adopted regulations governing opt-out and privacy no later than July 1, 2012.

California stands to become the first US state to pass do-not-track legislation and is poised to beat any national law. The Do Not Track Me Online Act was only introduced to the US House of Representatives in Washington DC in February – that was by another Californian Democrat, Jackie Speier – and must navigate Capitol Hill's partisan log jam.

SB 761 is reported to have already drawn opposition from one technology pressure group, twitchy about politicians spoiling the consumer data garage sale that's in full swing across Silicon Valley service providers and their technology enablers. A spokesperson for TechNet whose members include Silicon-Valley-based Apple, Cisco Systems, eBay, Google, Salesforce.com and Yahoo! along with Microsoft and Dell among others called SB 761 a job killer, that would hurt companies that use an advertising based economic model to survive.

Consumer pressure group Consumer Watchdog, which is championing SB 761, pointed out in a statement that under SB 761 web sites with which a consumer has an ongoing business relationship could gather information necessary for transactions even if the consumer had enabled Do Not Track.

SB 761 is meant to buttress moves by browser manufacturers Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla and Google that are implementing do-not-track in their browsers.

They have come quickly after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year gave its considered opinion that it's worried about the state of consumer privacy on the web.

The FTC said industry attempts at self-regulation were moving too slowly and it offered its own framework and recommendations to protect privacy and control sharing of consumers' data. Among the proposals: a do-not-track mechanism with a simple opt-out procedure.

Mozilla has proposed using an HTTP header that can – when activated – tell web sites not to track users of Firefox. Microsoft offered the option of creating lists of blocked sites in Internet Explorer 9 while leaving the way open for an header approach in IE. Apple is reported to be going the way of an HTTP header in the next version of Safari.

Google, whose entire business is predicated on online advertising, has taken the approach in Chrome of letting you opt out of tacking cookies from multiple advertising networks.

Consumer Watchdog said in its statement that the problem with do-not-track at the browser level is that there's no requirement on the web site to honor the do-not-track request. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.