The White House unveiled an online privacy proposal Thursday intended to allow Web users to easily opt out of being tracked on the Internet.
The “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” has received the backing of leading Internet companies and online advertising networks and would involve a simple “one click” setting on a Web browser, the White House said.
“American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
“As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy.
“That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important,” Obama said. “For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure.
“By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth,” he said.
The White House said Internet firms and ad networks were committing to incorporate “Do Not Track” technology in most major Web browsers to make it easier for users to control online tracking.
“Companies that represent the delivery of nearly 90 percent of online behavioral advertisements, including Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL have agreed to comply when consumers choose to control online tracking,” it said.
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights comes on the heels of a number of privacy controversies involving some of the biggest actors on the Web, including Facebook and Google.
It has received the backing of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a consortium of Internet, media and marketing trade associations and companies.
“Consumers will have a simple and clear mechanism in their browser to exercise choice,” DAA counsel Stuart Ingis said.
“If a consumer elects not to have data collected on them under the principles laid out then that will be honored uniformally across all companies.”
Ingis said the DAA will work with browser providers “to develop consistent language across browsers regarding this technology to make choice simple and clear.”
White House deputy chief technology officer Daniel Weitzner said the “Do Not Track” option would be a “very easy, one click” setting on a Web browser.
Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz said companies that make a commitment to “Do Not Track” would be subject to Federal Trade Commission enforcement.
“It’s great to see that companies are stepping up to our challenge to protect privacy so consumers have greater choice and control over how they are tracked online,” Leibowitz said.
“The fact that they’re going to honor the Web browser’s choice of what we call a ‘Do Not Track’ header is simply going to give consumers more privacy options and that is critically important,” he said.
The White House said the Commerce Department will begin holding talks with companies, privacy and consumer advocates, academics and others to develop privacy policies and practices based on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
“We will be working with Congress to implement this through legislation,” Commerce Secretary John Bryson said. “But we’re moving forward regardless.”
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights calls for giving consumers control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it, clear privacy practices and secure and responsible handling of their data.
Consumers should also have a right to access and correct personal data and be able to expect that any information they provide will be used in ways that are consistent with the context in which they provided the data.