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Sen. Hawley Pushes Apple to Add 'Do Not Track'

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to give his customers a do not track option.

Hawley has introduced a bill to that effect, but wrote Cook as Apple convened its developers conference and in the wake of a report that the Apple store does not have a mechanism for preventing those developers from "hiding" tracking software in their apps, something Cook is on the record as being highly critical of.

Related: Hawley Unimpressed by Facebook Privacy Plans

“I am optimistic that Congress will give my bipartisan bill serious consideration, but you have the power to provide these protections to your customers even before Congress acts," Hawley wrote. "If your company is serious about protecting privacy, you should give your customers the power to block all companies from collecting or sharing any data that is not indispensable to the companies’ online services.”

Hawley's "Do Not Track Act" would create a data collection version the Do Not Call list and users could trigger that option by a click in a browser settings or downloading an app.

Hawley has said edge providers have had plenty of time to implement a voluntary regime. "For years, industry groups promoted a program called 'Do Not Track' to give users control, and the FTC endorsed the program in 2010," he said when introducing his bill May 20. "But the program was voluntary, and tech giants that built their businesses around exploiting data refused to voluntarily comply. This bill would give Do Not Track legal force and expand it to cover all internet activity, not just browser-based activity." 

But Hawley said Cook can be a leader, rather than a legislation follower: "My bill takes a giant leap toward ending the greedy data-grabbing practices of bad-actor companies," he told the Apple executive. "But this effort should not be led by Congress alone. You have it in your power to make good on your promise to be an industry leader. You should do so by implementing the principles behind my Do Not Track bill immediately."

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.