Privacy groups seek 'do not track' Web list

Nine privacy and consumer organizations asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to create a "do not track" list for Internet users who don't want their online activities tracked, stored and used by advertising networks. Such a list would function much like the FTC's "do not call" registry that consumers can join to prevent telemarketing phone calls, according to the groups, which include the Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Consumer Federation of America. Internet advertising companies and marketers increasingly are collecting information about individuals' Web activities and preferences so as to tailor their advertising messages.

In recent months, Google Inc (GOOG.O), Yahoo (YHOO.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) have all struck deals to acquire online advertising companies. Executives from the three companies and other Internet firms are scheduled to address an FTC public meeting on behavioral advertising practices on Thursday and Friday. The "do not track" list would require advertisers that place electronic cookies or tags on consumers' computers to register with the FTC all domain names of the servers involved in such activities, according to the groups.

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How would this work, though? There's no real way to identify an individual user online. You can specify IP's, but those change, you can specify emails, but that would require someone logging into some account for each website they browse and all that's left are cookies, meaning the only way I can see for this happening is for you to have to go to some site, get a cookie or plugin that basically alerts these advertising sites not to install their own cookies.