The Federal Trade Commission is appealing to online advertising companies to make their data collecting practices transparent. To give internet users more privacy, the FTC is putting pressure on the online advertising industry to adopt a “do not track” option for web browsers. Tracking cookies, stashed in your web browser, monitor your browsing habits and online activity to help a tracking company determine appropriate ads. Online advertising companies may serve up the ads directly, or sell consumer data.
The FTC suggests that privacy be the default, that sites’ collection habits be clear and that browsers provide some protection from tracking. Currently web browsers Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari already have the “do not track” button, and Google Chrome is expected to install the option later this year. For now, Chrome users can download Google’s Keep My Opt-Outs extension.
More than 10 million people are already using the option, which alerts websites and internet advertisers that those users do not want their browsing behavior tracked. Online advertisers including major players Google and Yahoo have promised to begin listening to the signal, although there is no consensus yet on how much privacy users should expect. Questions remain regarding exceptions to rule, such as whether data collection should be allowed for product improvement purposes.
The “do not track” proposal is part of the Federal Trade Commission’s multi-pronged report entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change”, aimed at protecting consumer privacy both online and offline. The reports reads, “In today’s world of smartphones, smart grids, and smart cars, companies are collecting, storing, and sharing more information about consumers than ever before. Although companies use this information to innovate and deliver better products and services to consumers, they should not do so at the expense of consumer privacy.”
What do think about the “do not track” proposal? Let us know your thoughts below. Blue Interactive Agency is a Florida web design company aimed at helping businesses with SEO marketing, social media marketing, link building strategies and more. Our goal is to give companies all the tools they need to develop the best website marketing strategy possible for increased online visibility. For any questions, call us at 954-779-2801.