On February 28, U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the “Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013,” which would require all Web browsers, online companies, and mobile app developers to allow users to opt-out of online tracking by online advertising networks, data brokers, and others. The bill is similar to legislation that Senator Rockefeller introduced in 2011.
The bill would create a universal legal obligation for all online companies to honor consumer choice when consumers do not want any entity to collect information about their online activities. In addition, the bill would allow the Federal Trade Commission to pursue enforcement action against a company that does not honor a consumer’s request to not be tracked.
Under the bill, companies could track personal information in limited instances, including when (1) such tracking is necessary to deliver a service requested by the consumer being tracked, so long as the information is anonymized or deleted once the service is delivered; or (2) the individual receives clear and conspicuous notice that the collection is occuring, and consents to such collection.
The legislation is in response to ongoing dialogue (and disagreement) between the online industry and consumer groups over how best to implement an industry-wide Do Not Track standard. According to Sen. Rockefeller, “[i]ndustry stood at the White House and made a public pledge to honor do-not-track requests, but has since failed to live up to that commitment.” In response, Sen. Rockefeller states that this latest bill will give consumers “the opportunity to simply say ‘no thank you’ to anyone and everyone collecting their online information. Period.”