SANTA MONICA, CA — Consumer Watchdog welcomed Microsoft’s announcement today that the company will offer “Tracking Protection” next year, but said robust “Do Not Track Me” legislation still must be passed by Congress.
Microsoft said its Internet Explorer 9 browser will allow consumers to download lists of third-party Websites that would be prevented from tracking the user. Microsoft would not create the lists, but envisions them being maintained by consumer groups, advertisers and ad trade groups or government agencies. Internet Explorer simply would not provide information to sites on lists consumers load into the browser.
“We always welcome innovation that increases privacy options, but Do Not Track Me legislation remains necessary. Consumers need a one-stop option to prevent their private information from being collected, shared or sold without their knowledge,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google Project. “As the FTC said last week, self-regulation has not worked to protect online privacy. Privacy protection demands enforceable rules.”
Consumer Watchdog said that one concern with Microsoft’s voluntary approach is that online advertisers who want to track users could innovate around the technology with new technology. “We need to end the technological arms race. A simple ‘Do Not Track Me’ message sent from a browser that advertisers would be required by law to honor would do that,” said Simpson.
There are also concerns about who would create and maintain the lists, and whether they would be just as confusing to consumers as the current system, Consumer Watchdog said. Microsoft’s proposal could also continue to allow unlimited data collection and even sale of information by first party websites without consumers’ consent, said the group.
Consumer Watchdog has been working to protect consumers’ online privacy rights and educate them about the issues through its Inside Google Project. The goal has been to convince Google of the social and economic importance of giving consumers control over their online lives. By persuading Google, the Internet’s leading company, to adopt adequate guarantees, its policies could become the gold standard for privacy for the industry, potentially improving the performance of the entire online sector.
Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA. Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com
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