Anew USA Today/Gallup poll that found most Americans are worried about privacy and viruses when using Facebook or Google underscores the need for a Do Not Track mechanism to protect consumers online,Consumer Watchdogsaid today.
The poll was released as Rep. Jackie Speier(D-Calif.)was preparing Do Not Track legislation, expected to be introduced later this week. Her bill would give the Federal Trade Commission power to implement and enforce Do Not Track regulations.
The USA Today poll found that nearly seven out of 10 Facebook members surveyed — and 52% of Google users — say they are either "somewhat" or "very concerned" about their privacy while using the world's most popular social network and dominant search engine.
A poll by Consumer Watchdog last summer found that 90% of Americans want legislation to protect their online privacy and 80% support a Do Not Track mechanism. Another 86% want a single-click button on their browsers that makes them anonymous when they search online.
Sperier's billwould enable consumers to "opt out" of tracking by online advertisers. The aide said the bill is narrowly tailored to address tracking issues only, rather than the broader question of online privacy,The Hill newspaper reported.
Speier's officesaid Rep. Speierworked with anumberof pro-privacy groups on the bill, including Consumer Watchdog, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others.
The Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox Web browsers announced last month that they were implementing do-not-track tools on forthcoming editions of their browsers.
For the Mozilla tool to work, Web advertisers and tracking companies will have to agree not to follow users who enable the do-not-track feature. The non-profit Mozilla Corp.says it will urge companies to "honor people's privacy choices."
Google said its Keep My Opt-Outs feature will let users permanently opt out of ad-tracking cookies. The extension is available immediately in the Chrome Web store.
The Federal Trade Commission has been urging the advertising industry to adopt do-not-track measures but has not ruled out pursuing legislation to mandate it.
“The FTC wants to help ensure that the growing, changing, thriving information marketplace is built on a framework that promotes privacy, transparency, business innovation and consumer choice. We believe that’s what most Americans want as well,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitzrecently.
“It would behoove both Facebook and Google to support Do Not Track legislation,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Inside Google project. “Both companies need consumers’ trust to thrive. The polls show people are worried when they use their services. A Do Not Track option would give consumers control of their data and restore trust. It’s a win-win for consumers and online businesses.”
Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, Ca.