Consumer Watchdog Calls On Gov. Brown To Sign ‘Do Not Track’ Legislation, But Cautions Law Is Only A Step Towards Knowledge, Not Full Consumer Power

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SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a Do Not Track bill just passed by the State Legislature because it is a step towards consumer knowledge, but the public interest group added that ultimately consumers must have the right to simply say “no” to online tracking.

The bill, AB 370, requires a website or online service to disclose how it responds when it receives a “Do Not Track” message. It doesn’t require that the website honor a Do Not Track request, but the website would have to explain its procedures in its privacy policy.  The bill also requires a website to disclose if third parties gather a consumer’s data when the website is visited.

“This is a step forward because knowledge is a step towards power, but ultimately we need the power to simply say ‘no’ to being tracked,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director.  “Right now the sad reality is that all the web browsers can send the Do Not Track message, but nobody has to listen and we don’t know whether anybody is.  When this bill becomes law, consumers will know who respects their privacy request and who ignores them. Based on that knowledge they can take action.”

Consumer Watchdog said it has become clear that most companies won’t honor a Do Not Track request in a meaningful way unless they are legally required to do so.

AB 370 was carried by Assemblyman Al Muratuschi and sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris. The Assembly concurred with Senate amendments to the bill on Monday with a vote of 71 to 0.  It passed the Senate on Friday.

Read the bill here:

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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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