Feds Want to Help Cover Your Web Tracks

FTC aims to limit companies' ability to watch consumers
By Laila Weir,  Newser User
Posted May 22, 2008 6:57 PM CDT
Washington, UNITED STATES: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) building is seen 19 September 2006 in Washington, DC.    (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The Federal Trade Commission is considering guidelines governing how online advertisers target consumers based on their Web surfing—and some lawmakers want them to be mandatory, the Washington Post reports. Privacy advocates are pushing to limit behavioral tracking, but some Internet companies say that could mean sites won’t be able to keep offering content free.

Companies that track Internet users’ behavior say the data collected is anonymous because they don’t keep personally identifiable information, but privacy activists disagree. "It is not anonymous if the companies are tracking the same user over time," says one. Meanwhile, a rep from the Newspaper Association of America argued the new guidelines could "jeopardize the consumer's ability to get free content on the Internet."