February 1, 2011 | By Rebecca Jeschke

EFF Urges Commerce Department to Embrace 'Do Not Track'

Support for a browser-header-based "Do Not Track" proposal is building in both the federal government and the private sector, which is good news for Internet users who are concerned about privacy. Friday, EFF submitted comments to the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force, urging the department to embrace the system and support legislation that would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to act on Do Not Track.

Do Not Track will help consumers fight against the largely invisible, poorly understood, and continually escalating surveillance of their online activities. Not only would Internet users have the opportunity to opt-out of online tracking for advertising and marketing purposes, but the browser-header-based system would also help increase transparency and understanding by standardizing expectations. We all know that privacy policies on websites are hard to understand at best, making them unhelpful tools when it comes to making decisions about using a site or application. With a Do Not Track system, businesses will have a clear way to know what each consumer expects of them, and force them to disclose practices that are contrary to those expectations.

EFF's comments also strongly supported the Commerce Department's call for reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). EFF is a member of the Digital Due Process Coalition, a group dedicated to updating electronic privacy law to adequately address the technological tools of today. EFF asked the Commerce Department to back changes to ECPA that would restrict communications providers' disclosures of information to third-parties, among other requests.

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