Feds Pushing for Stronger Privacy While You Shop OnlineS

Congress is getting behind a policy "rethink" regarding online privacy, including the implementation of an FTC-enforced "Do Not Track" list. Such a list would allow shoppers to opt-out of advertising and behavioral tracking that follows customers from item to item.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is thoroughly creeped out, as expressed at a hearing on internet privacy earlier this week where he compared internet shopping to a sort of perverse shopping mall. In this internet mall of nightmares, there's

"A machine recording every store you enter and every product you look at, and every product you buy. You go into a bookstore. The machine records every book you purchase or peruse. Then, you go to the drugstore. The machine is watching you there, meticulously recording every product you pick up—from the shampoo to the allergy medicine to your personal prescription."

So what to do? Beyond the their "Do Not Track" list idea, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who testified at the hearing, believes a "privacy box" of summarized tracking policies should be presented to online shoppers upfront. But does the FTC have the authority to mandate this a privacy box? "We can certainly encourage it," says Leibowitz. Comforting!

Google, whose bread and butter is knowing exactly what you're looking for and looking at online, dropped by to urge that increased privacy will come in the form of guiding "principles"—which, of course, means nothing—rather than concrete regulation. [Ars Technica]
Image via laura padgett