California Considers Groundbreaking Ban On Internet Tracking

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(CBS)

(CBS)

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – California lawmakers were headed into uncharted territory Tuesday, holding the first hearing in the nation on Internet “do not track” legislation.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Currently, browser companies don’t have to heed a user’s request that Internet activity not be tracked. That could all change, depending on the decision by California’s Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the controversial issue.

“What the do not track legislation would do is send a message to websites that the user doesn’t wish to be tracked and the regulations would require the websites to honor that,” explained John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project, which sponsored the legislation.

“Where you go, what you do, what you buy is your business. It is something that tells a lot about you, sometimes in ways you wouldn’t want it revealed so it’s essential that you have the right to control that data,” said Simpson.

Simpson equated online tracking with stalking.

“You would be outraged if you went into a shopping mall and somebody walked behind you and wrote down every store you went into, every item you looked at and every item you purchased. You would be able to prosecute them for stalking to you. Well, that’s what happens on the Internet,” he reasoned.

Critics question the technical feasibility of do not track proposals, suggesting consumers could lose out on relevant advertising and free content.

Simpson says it’s simply a matter of personal preference – something consumers, right now, don’t always get to exercise.

“When you go online there may be times when you would want your information gathered so that you get a more personalized experience but it should be controlled by you, it shouldn’t be up to nameless companies to track you around when you don’t even know about it.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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