NEWS28 March 2012

FTC backs ‘do not track’ opt-out for online tracking

Government North America

US— The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has repeated its support for the development of a browser-based ‘do not track’ online data collection opt-out along the lines of the one proposed by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA).

In its report, Protecting Consumer Privacy, the FTC says it “commends recent industry efforts to improve consumer control over behavioural
tracking and looks forward to final implementation”.

The FTC calls for any do-not-track mechanism to be applied universally to all companies that track consumers, that it is easy to find and use and is persistent.

However, the commission seems to agree with the view of the DAA, which calls for do-not-track mechanisms to exempt data required for market research and product development purposes – provided that the data is “de-identified”.

The FTC writes: “An effective do-not-track system should go beyond simply opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements; it should opt them out of collection of behavioural data for all purposes other than those that would be consistent with the context of the interaction (e.g., preventing click-fraud or collecting de-identified data for analytics purposes.”

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz previously called the DAA’s proposals “a very important step forward” – however they weren’t met with the same enthusiasm in the European Union, where data protection watchdogs within the Article 29 Working Party said a do-not-track setting within a browser should mean no tracking “for any purpose”.