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FTC chairman: Expect do-not-track in 2012

3/30/2012

Internet privacy will improve in 2012 with the widespread adoption of do-not-track technology, according to U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz.

Speaking before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 29, Leibowitz asserted that privacy concerns are of paramount importance, but he acknowledged that internet commerce has been driven in part by companies' ability to gather user data.

Leibowitz also said there has been substantial industry buy-in for do-not-track.

"Online advertisers, major web browsers and an international consortium have all made great strides on do-not-track," he said. "They recognize that do-not-track will help build consumer confidence in the internet and that in turn will spur greater internet commerce."

On March 26, the FTC issued a report calling for a user-friendly do-not-track mechanism to be built into the internet browsing experience.

The FTC report and Leibowitz's testimony coincide with increasing public awareness of internet privacy issues. Many prominent websites have recently made changes to their privacy policy and terms of service agreements, and these changes have, in some cases, been controversial. Google has agreed to adopt certain do-not-track features, but the company is facing a class-action lawsuit from users who say its new privacy policy is too hard to opt out of.