Source: FTC Press Release
The Federal Trade Commission told Congress today that while the Commission recognizes that consumers may benefit in certain ways from the practice of tracking consumers online to serve targeted advertising, the agency supports giving consumers a “Do Not Track” option because the practice is largely invisible to consumers, and they should have a simple, easy way to control it. The FTC proposes that Do Not Track would be a persistent setting on consumers’ Web browsers.
David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection that the practice of tracking consumers’ activities online to target advertising, known as behavioral advertising, holds value for consumers because it supports content and services on the Web and delivers more personalized ads. He noted, however, that more transparency and consumer control regarding the practice are needed.
The testimony states that while some in the industry have taken steps to improve consumer control of behavioral advertising, industry efforts have largely fallen short. Given the limitations of existing mechanisms, “the Commission supports a more uniform and comprehensive consumer choice mechanism for online behavioral advertising,” sometimes referred to as “Do Not Track.”
The most practical way to do that “would likely involve placing a setting similar to a persistent cookie on a consumer’s browser, and conveying that setting to sites that the browser visits, to signal whether or not the consumer wants to be tracked or receive targeted advertisements,” according to the testimony.