Tech groups question new do-not-track bill

The new legislation would require all online companies to honor do-not-track requests

New legislation in the U.S. Senate that would allow Internet users to tell companies to stop tracking them is unnecessary and could slow e-commerce growth, some tech groups said.

Senators John "Jay" Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, and Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, reintroduced do-not-track legislation on Thursday. The Do-Not-Track Online Act, similar to legislation Rockefeller introduced in 2011, would require all online companies to honor do-not-track requests from consumers.

Online companies have failed to live up to promises to honor do-not-track requests, Rockefeller said in a statement.

"Online companies are collecting massive amounts of information, often without consumers' knowledge or consent," he added. "Consumers should be empowered to make their own decision about whether their information can be tracked and used online. My bill gives consumers the opportunity to simply say 'no thank you' to anyone and everyone collecting their online information."

But industry efforts to give consumers control over their data are working, countered Lou Mastria, managing director of the Digital Advertising Alliance, a trade group for online advertisers. The DAA's own program allowing consumers to opt out of online tracking covers more than 90 percent of the online advertising market, he said.

The DAA's opt-out mechanism and online advertising principles are based on U.S. Federal Trade Commission recommendations, he said. Ads with the DAA's icon are served online a trillion times a month, he added.

DAA launched the self-regulatory program in 2010 and announced its first 100 participating companies in mid-2011, shortly after Rockefeller introduced his earlier do-not-track bill.

"A lot has changed since the last time the senator put the bill out," Mastria said. "We brought [do-not-track notices] to reality at Web-wide scale."

Legislation isn't needed because self-regulation is working in the U.S., he added. "The reality is we've stepped up and delivered at every turn," he said.

The do-not-track bill would harm Internet companies that depend on tracking to deliver targeted advertising, added the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech-focused think tank. The bill would hurt consumers because so much Web content is supported by targeted advertising, the foundation said.

"The success of the Internet is rooted in the availability of access to free, ad-supported online content and services," Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at ITIF, said in an email. "Given the importance of the Internet to the U.S. economy it is unfortunate to see legislation introduced that will discourage growth in this important sector."

In addition to giving Web users a do-not-track option, the new bill would allow the FTC to pursue enforcement action against any company that does not honor consumer opt-out requests, and it would require companies to collect only the information they need to effectively deliver their website or online service. The bill would require online companies to destroy or anonymize personal information they no longer need.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags advertisingU.S. SenateU.S. Federal Trade CommissionInformation Technology and Innovation Foundatione-commercelegislationinternetprivacyDaniel CastroLou MastriaJohn "Jay" RockefellersecurityDigital Advertising AllianceRichard Blumenthalgovernment

More about Federal Trade CommissionFTCIDGTechnologyWest

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place