The Federal Trade Commission’s proposal to implement an online “Do-Not-Track” option that would allow consumers to opt-out of all third-party tracking and behaviorally-targeted advertising is entirely premature.
In December, the FTC suggested that Do-Not-Track mechanisms should take the form of an add-on in Web browsers, enabling consumers to check a box that would state their preference to opt-out of tracking as they use the Internet. According to the FTC, such a universal mechanism would prevent consumers from having to opt-out on a “company-by-company or industry-by-industry basis.”
Recent privacy-enhancing practices and technologies adopted by businesses aware of the advantages of self-regulation over prescriptive rules, such as the addition of advertising and tracking opt-out icons on commercial websites, have been positive. The Internet marketing industry must continue in this direction and take the concept of self-regulation seriously. It sure beats the alternative – restrictive regulation.