Rockefeller To Introduce Do-Not-Track Bill

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) announced Friday that he will introduce do-not-track legislation to give consumers more control over their personal/sensitive information online.

"Consumers have a right to know when and how their personal and sensitive information is being used online-and most importantly to be able to say ‘no thanks' when companies seek to gather that information without their approval," said Rockefeller in announcing the "Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011."

While it does not prevent online tracking, it allows consumers to just say no, and backs it up with mandates to anonymize or destroy info.

The bill would:

"Create a universal legal obligation for all online companies to honor consumer choice when consumers do not want anyone to collect information about their online activities;

"Allow the Federal Trade Commission to pursue enforcement action against any company that does not honor this request by consumers;"

And, if consumers don't want to be tracked, "[A]llow companies to collect only the information that is necessary for the website or online service to function and be effective, but then place a legal obligation on the online company to destroy or anonymize the information once it is no longer needed."

Rockefeller has already held multiple hearings on online privacy and has teed up another one, on mobile privacy, for this month.

Separately, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is planning a do-not-track bill targeted at collection of information from kids.

The Commerce Department and FTC have both weighed in in support of a voluntary privacy protection regime that would put more do-not-track power in the hands of online consumers.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.