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Do-Not-Track bill introduced in US Senate

Data collection opt out mulled

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A US senator has introduced a privacy bill that would prevent websites from following the online behavior of users who want to opt out of such tracking.

Dubbed the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 (PDF here), the measure would give the Federal Trade Commission authority to draft specific rules about how and when consumers could register their choice not to be tracked online. The agency and state attorneys general would be responsible for enforcing the law.

“I believe consumers have a right to decide whether their information can be collected and used online,” Senator John D. Rockefeller, a Democrat of West Virginia, and the sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “This bill offers a simple, straightforward way for people to stop companies from tracking their movements online.”

The legislation would apply to people browsing the web with computers or mobile devices. Rockefeller is chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Google recently became the only browser marker to explicitly join lobbyists opposing a proposed California law that would have much the same effect.

Mozilla and Microsoft have added do-not-track technology to their browsers, and Apple reportedly has done the same with its Safari browser for the Lion version of OS X. Google, by contrast, has promoted a plug-in for opting-out of tracking cookies from multiple advertising networks in Chrome. ®

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