In today’s digital world the need to protect one’s privacy is at an all time high. On Monday the FTC sought to address the issue of online privacy and the practice of “tracking.” U.S. regulators are looking for a way to implement a “do not track” system that would allow internet users more control over their online privacy. In Monday’s 57 page report, the Federal Trade Commission sought congressional legislation that would bring about a broad privacy law that would allow consumers access to the information that websites like Google, Facebook and Twitter collect, how it’s collected, how it’s used and who has access to it.
The FTC is encouraging companies to volunteer their efforts in bringing about better privacy policies that are more consumer friendly. In the report, the FTC urged companies to implement a “do not track” system that could be as easy as clicking a button on your Internet browser.
“We are confident that consumers will have an easy to use and effective Do Not Track option by the end of the year because companies are moving forward expeditiously to make it happen and because lawmakers will want to enact legislation if they don’t,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz told Reuters on Monday.
Privacy advocates say it doesn’t go far enough.
“The commission’s overall support for industry self-regulation is disappointing, and reveals a FTC still too often constrained from effectively protecting the public,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. Critics say there is little there that actually protects the consumer.
Others criticize the report as an attack on free commerce.
“The new report shows the FTC still does not understand the fundamental economics of the Internet. Consumers should have options to protect their privacy, but there are important trade-offs and costs in creating those protections. The FTC’s recommendations would create economic burdens that could stifle the efficiency and innovation that consumers also want from the Internet.” Daniel Castro, senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation told PC World magazine on Monday Castro went on to say that it would limit choices for consumers on the internet and ultimately any such privacy legislation would not benefit internet users.
A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute says that only about 10 percent of people are concerned about online privacy and are not concerned about giving companies information on likes and dislikes.
“People want to know more about things they’re interested in. It’s the extraneous stuff they don’t want.” Said Larry Ponemon a security expert at the Ponemon Institute, adding: “I have a lot of respect for the FTC. It does a lot of good stuff, but on this particular issue, [its] policy is not representative of the population at large, and the cure is worse than the disease.”