Feeds

California Do-Not-Track web privacy law moves forward

Browser alone isn't tough enough

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.