The Time is Now for Do Not Track Legislation

While our electronic privacy laws have remained stagnant, online advertising has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. The browsing and communications habits of online users are routinely and secretly tracked as they surf the internet. Yesterday, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, introduced a bill to establish a Do Not Track mechanism –similar to a Do Not Call Registry– that would allow users to restrict what companies collect about them and regain control of their privacy and online identity.

Online advertisers are creating profiles that contain an unprecedented breadth of personal information. According to a 2010 Wall Street Journal report, Microsoft’s attached a tracking device that predicts such detailed information as an individual’s age, ZIP code, gender, income, marital status, presence of children and home ownership. More intrusive devices are capable of monitoring information like what individuals type, resulting in the storing of information as sensitive as political opinions expressed in a chat room, or a Google search for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Profiles like these are now held on many, if not most, Americans. A New York Times report from last November on the scope of online advertising found that the customers of a software company called BluKai–which owns travel sites like Kayak and Expedia—currently track more than 80 percent of the U.S. online population, and have created more than 200 million individual profiles based on what individuals browse and buy online.

Although government agencies have called on industry to provide privacy protections for consumers for years now, self-regulatory efforts have fallen short. In one of their most recent—and ridiculous—compromises, a group of online advertisers attempted to redefine Do Not Track so that the function would merely withhold targeted advertising from consumers, while advertisers could continue to create and store profiles. Meanwhile, a voluntary process convened by the W3C, an internet standard setting body, has dragged on for years. It is time for Congress to act.

The internet is one of the greatest tools at our disposal to practice our First Amendment rights as we communicate, learn and express ourselves on a global scale. But key to technological advancement is our ability to surf and communicate online without the fear of being watched. Without these privacy protections, the internet will no longer thrive as an open and innovative medium.

We applaud Senator Rockefeller for his effort to put forth a straightforward “Do Not Track” option in order to protect our First Amendment rights, maintain our right to privacy and support the growth of the internet.

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Seana Sperling

Companies have been selling our private information (addresses, phone numbers, emails SSNs etc. for years). Sites like, I have been so frustrated with these info. collection sites that have posted true and ERRONEOUS information about me, including that posted that I had a criminal record that was "Very graphic." Not true. No record! had postings that I was a pedophile, racist etc. along with my home address. All libelous claims, but unfortunately it has caused mobbing in my community because some fools believe it. I have contacted a bunch of the sites to remove my information, but only some have. complied especially since the allegations of crimilnal records was libel. The misinformation has taken a terrible toll on my friendships, working conditions and my life.


In addition to new electronic tracking, let's tackle the tracking and control that has been going on for decades by the credit bureaus. These companies collect all types of data on us individually, process this data, and then report to financial, employment, and insurance agencies (just to name a few). These agencies then use this information in the form of a credit score to determine if or at what rate they will do business with us. It is a violation of due process that these credit bureaus are allowed to calculate a "score" on an individuals credit; then share it with all types of agencies for decision making purposes; but are not required to provide it to the very person it affects the most (the "owner" of the score). Decisions are made everyday which are discriminatory based on these scores. If your score is "good" you not only get approved for credit, but also your interest rate may be better than someone with a lesser score. These decisions tend to continually discriminate against the weak and poor in our society.

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