The New York Times takes a look at Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), who has advocated for privacy rights and has announced he will retire in 2015. Rockefeller has 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. The Times reports:
The bill would require the Federal Trade Commission to establish standardized mechanisms for people to use their Internet browsers to tell Web sites, advertising networks, data brokers and other online entities whether or not they were willing to submit to data-mining.
The bill would also require the F.T.C. to develop rules to prohibit online services from amassing personal details about users who had opted out of such tracking.
Mr. Rockefeller proposed the same bill two years ago. But he did not push it in the Senate at the time because industry groups had pledged to voluntarily develop systems to honor the browser-based don’t-track-me flags. Last year, however, negotiations between industry groups and consumer advocates over how to execute these mechanisms essentially broke down and have since made little progress.
The new Rockefeller bill indicates that the senator believes the industry has not acted in good faith. […]
Industry representatives said that legislation was unnecessary because advertising networks and data brokers several years ago voluntarily introduced their own opt-out program for consumers, called Your AdChoices. Unlike the Do Not Track signals, which would allow users to make a one-time decision about all online tracking from their own browsers, the industry program requires people to go to a site, where they can opt out of receiving marketing offers from several hundred companies based on data-mining. Users also have the option to individually select the companies from whom they prefer not to receive such offers. […]
But Mr. Rockefeller’s bill indicates that legislative action could pre-empt voluntary industry measures.