Consumer Groups Push Obama for 'Do Not Track' List

Want FTC to Take Firmer Stance on Behavioral Tracking, Privacy

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WASHINGTON ( -- Consumer groups today urged President Elect Barack Obama's transition team on the Federal Trade Commission to step up the agency's actions on privacy protection, including the implementation of a do-not-track registry.

In an hour-long meeting with transition team members Susan Ness and Phil Weiser, representatives of more than half a dozen consumer groups suggested that the FTC hasn't been proactive enough in protecting consumers and needs to do more. Ms. Ness is a former Federal Communications Commission commissioner and Mr. Weiser is a professor of law at the University of Colorado. The transition team is preparing recommendations to be presented to President Obama's appointments to the FTC.

Consumer group attendees said they told Ms. Ness and Mr. Weiser that the FTC under Republican administrations had been "overly cautious" and too willing to balance the needs of consumers and businesses, rather than taking on the agency's traditional role of protecting consumers.

Timid approach
Susan Grant, director of consumer protection for Consumers Union, said she reiterated some of the concerns that the group had made earlier directly to the FTC that the agency had exhibited a "timidness in approach" in regulating online behavioral tracking and she called for the FTC to create a do-not-track registry, much as it created a do-not-call registry. She also said the FTC had been too willing to accept industry self-regulation without adequately monitoring its effectiveness.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said he expressed concern that the FTC wasn't adequately monitoring new developments in marketing and that "self-regulation has failed." He said he told the team that the FTC needed to elevate is consideration of new privacy protections and that the agency wasn't "pro consumer."

The Obama transition team's press office declined comment on the meeting.

In a related meeting last week, the FTC was urged by Kathryn Montgomery, an American University professor, to start putting in place some protections specifically for teens. Ms. Montgomery was the main backer behind Congress's passage of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which put in place restrictions on what marketers could collect from younger children.

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