The Federal Trade Commission announced today that they want online advertisers to take consumer privacy seriously. The agency is calling for a ‘do-not-track’ option for users who do not want their Internet habits secretly monitored by advertisers. The FTC stopped short of a requiring the option stating they do not have the authority to mandate the do not track system, that would take an act of Congress. The FTC isn’t the only federal agency weighing in on the Internet today. Federal Communication Commission chairman Julius Genachowski laid out his plan for regulating the Internet, which is a bit of a mixed bag. He wants to protect consumers by forbidding major internet providers from blocking content (remember the Fox/Cablevision dispute that left New Yorkers without the World Series?), but his plan gives broadband providers the green light to charge different rates based on usage. His plan allows companies an unprecedented opportunity to create what are tantamount to toll roads or separate highways outside the public Internet, enabling them to charge more for specific services. The details of his plan must be approved by the full commission - a vote is scheduled for December 21.
Benjamin Lennett, senior policy analyst, New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative
Judy Harris, partner at Reed Smith LLP