When consumers say they don't want their online activity monitored by companies mining data out of their every click they mean it, the Federal Trade Commission warned yesterday. The consumer protection agency said that if technology and advertising companies can't voluntarily create an effective and easy to use "Do Not Track" option by the end of this year, then it will support legislation to ensure consumers can opt out of having their behavior online monitored and shared, the New York Times reports.
The consumer privacy debate has put the FTC at odds with data brokers who collect and sell a wide range of information about consumers, and with online advertising companies, which fear letting users opt out of being tracked will destroy their businesses. Internet users have "enthusiastically" shifted more of their lives online in recent years, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz says. "As a result, we have had to ask, how can consumers continue to enjoy the riches of a thriving online and mobile marketplace without surrendering their privacy as the price of admission?"