MediaPost reports on a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday, “A Status Update on the Development of Voluntary Do-Not-Track Standards.” Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has been focused on the issue of online privacy for consumers and, last month, again introduced a privacy bill that he championed two years ago, the “Do-Not-Track Online Act.” (Do Not Track proposals would allow consumers to restrict the data gathered by Web sites and marketers on the consumers’ online browsing or purchases.) Here’s the 2013 bill (pdf) and a section-by-section analysis (pdf) from Rockefeller’s office. Here are Rockefeller’s prepared remarks for the hearing.
The head of the Senate Commerce Committee came out swinging at the online ad industry on Wednesday, accusing it of failing to honor an agreement to honor consumers’ requests to avoid online data collection.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said at a hearing on Wednesday that the online ad industry has failed to live up to a promise made at the White House last year to respect do-not-track headers — signals sent by browsers that tell Web sites users don’t want to be tracked. […]
Rockefeller repeated his call for legislation on Wednesday. “I do not believe that companies with business models based on the collection and monetization of personal information will voluntarily stop those practices if it negatively impacts their profit margins,” he said in his opening statement.
For the last two years, the Internet standards group World Wide Web Consortium has been trying to forge an agreement among computer scientists, privacy advocates and ad industry representatives about how to interpret the signals. But the effort so far hasn’t resulted in any consensus.
Lou Mastria, managing director of the umbrella trade group Digital Advertising Alliance, said its agreement to honor do-not-track headers was “short-circuited” by recent privacy-related decisions made by Microsoft and Mozilla.
The DAA originally said it would honor browser-based headers, provided that users activated them. But last May, Microsoft announced that it turn on do-not-track headers by default in Internet Explorer 10. The DAA responded by reminding everyone that it never agreed to honor requests that weren’t set directly by users.