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FTC Proposes More Online Transparency
Vol. 905 
March 27, 2012

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report yesterday detailing its new proposal that would allow consumers to see the data that’s collected about their online searching and purchasing habits. The FTC’s report calls on Congress to enact legislation giving consumers access to information collected about them by data brokers. The model for the legislation that the FTC is proposing would be similar to the rights consumers now have to review information amassed by credit reporting agencies.

The recommendations from the FTC came as the organization issued its final version of the online privacy report it initially issued in December 2010. That report called on the technology and Internet industries to create do-not-track mechanisms for consumers to opt-out of being followed by online data collection agencies. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Monday that self-regulation is resulting in do-not-track options for consumers, although he suggested congressional involvement would help to enhance online safety for consumers.

"We are confident that consumers will have an easy-to-use and effective do not track option by the end of the year because companies are moving forward expeditiously to make it happen and because lawmakers will want to enact legislation if they don't," Leibowitz said.

The latest version of the Firefox browser already allows users to turn off Web-browsing histories and advise websites that "I do not want to be tracked." Google is also issuing a new version of Chrome that will contain a highly-visible “do not track” button in the toolbar at the top.

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