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    Politico: Jon Leibowitz: Google should step up on privacy

    Politico has an interview with Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who criticizes Google for not having a Do Not Track Tool on its browser. Apple’s Safari browser recently added a Do Not Track tool. Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Explorer browsers have Do Not Track features to give consumers more control over the personal data that is gathered by Web sites or advertisers. Google does not have a Do Not Track tool for its Chrome Web browser, but it offers Keep My Opt-Outs, which seeks to make it easier for online users to opt-out of some kinds of targeted online behavioral advertising.

    Politico reports:

    FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz says there’s one big laggard when it comes to “Do Not Track” — Google — and he’d like to see more from the company that offers the Chrome browser.

    In an interview with POLITICO on Monday, Leibowitz called out Google for not adopting a Do Not Track tool even as its industry rivals have seemingly jumped to do so over the past few months, in part to show they’re serious about online privacy. […]

    “Really the only holdout — the only company that hasn’t evolved as much as we would like on this — is Google,” he continued. “But they’re moving in the right direction.”

    The FTC in December recommended a Do Not Track mechanism for Web browsers, immediately recasting the complex debate over online privacy with a simple, easy-to-understand proposal. But the notion that consumers could opt out of behavioral tracking with the click of a button has triggered a fierce backlash among advertisers who say it could cripple the booming Internet commerce business. […]

    Google said in a statement that it does offer a plug-in called “Keep My Opt-Outs” that allows Chrome users to avoid most behavioral advertising. It also allows users to surf in “incognito” mode, keeping a person’s Web history clean of sites and cookies that would indicate what they’ve viewed online — but not stopping third parties from collecting or sharing information.

    Google has shied away from a Do Not Track button on Chrome, saying that there’s no agreement among advertisers to honor the tool even for the browsers that offer it. In other words, at least at this point, it’s a largely ineffective gesture.

    But Leibowitz wants that to change. The more the major browsers do to make Do Not Track available, the more pressure advertisers will likely feel to respect consumers’ wishes.

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