WASHINGTON--A first principle of Internet regulation is that what's routinely done in the offline world should be OK when done online. A second principle is that if a company discloses that it's going to do something like review your search history when displaying ads, and then follows through, that should be permitted.
Keep these principles in mind when evaluating some of the overheated proposals bubbling up during the Federal Trade Commission's two-day meeting this week about online privacy.
Here are two ideas that have been floated:
Creating a "Do Not Track" list. The proposal from … Read more
A Federal Trade Commission official on Thursday issued a warning of sorts to Internet companies: stop collecting information about your users by default, and give them shorter, more conspicuous details about what's going on with their data.
The government doesn't need to force such practices "at this point," said Commissioner Jon Leibowitz, a Democrat. But in his view, online services need to start offering users more "meaningful choices," such as the ability to "opt in" to placement of Web cookies on their machines from the start, rather than the typical "opt … Read more
Updated at 2:29 p.m. PDT Thursday: Two public-interest groups are asking the U.S. government to target what they claim are "invasive" online marketing schemes--especially those involving social-networking Web sites or targeting children and teenagers.
In a lengthy new complaint expected to be filed Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission, the Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) say they're concerned that Internet users are more "vulnerable" than ever to increasingly sophisticated advertising techniques that depend on tracking and compartmentalizing people's behavior and preferences.
"The … Read more
Google launched a privacy channel on YouTube Wednesday with videos explaining its privacy policies. The move comes on the eve of a two-day Federal Trade Commission-hosted town hall event on behavioral ad targeting to be held in Washington, D.C.
In a Google video titled "Google Search Privacy: Plain and Simple," a Google support engineer draws on a whiteboard, explaining what type of information is collected by Google servers, such as IP address and cookie data, when you conduct a Google search.
"In future videos, we'll talk about why Google keeps logs, what information we record … Read more
WASHINGTON--Federal consumer protection authorities say they want nothing more than to put the financial hurt on deceptive spyware purveyors. The trouble, they say, is that the law still doesn't let them.
But currently, the FTC can only force an offending company to turn over ill-gotten profits or to pay a finite amount to affected consumers--"consumer redress," as it's known … Read more
If you're one of the hundreds of consumers who reportedly complained to the feds about a less-than-pleasant experience with the media search sites MovieLand.com, Moviepass.tv or Popcorn.net, this piece of news may provide a little vindication.
The Web operations, which allegedly bombarded unsuspecting users of its software with a sequence of large, music-accompanied pop-ups that demanded payment of up to $99, have reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the agency said in a news release Thursday.
ASPEN, Colo.--It must be a bit irksome being an antitrust regulator in the United States when your European counterparts are (a) more likely to interfere with the private sector and (b) look disdainfully at federal agencies as wishy-washy.
Which is probably why William Kovacic, one of the Federal Trade Commission's five members, spent nearly an hour on Monday defending the American approach as reasoned and no less thorough than that of its cross-Atlantic counterparts. There is a "tendency on the part of our European colleagues to dismiss the U.S. experience," he said.
(It should be … Read more
An attack by consumer groups on the way that companies like Microsoft target advertisements to Internet users has attracted some notice from federal regulators.
Last November, the Center for Digital Democracy and U.S. Public Interest Research Group asked the Federal Trade Commission to review the growing use of business models built on, by their description, technologies that "aggressively track us wherever we go, creating data profiles to be used in ever-more sophisticated and personalized 'one-to-one' targeting schemes."
In a letter dated June 21 to the leaders of the two groups, FTC Consumer Protection Bureau Director Lydia Parnes … Read more