US Senator plans to propose anti-online tracking law this week

The debate over the tracking of smartphone customers over the last few weeks could lead to a law that in theory will allow consumers the rights to shut off such features. Advertising Age's web site reports that US Senator John Rockefeller, a Republican serving the state of West Virginia, says that he plans to introduce a bill sometime this week that will give such users a way to opt out of being tracked by cell phone companies

The bill, which will be called the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011, would also allow for the government's Federal Trade Commission to prosecute companies that fail to give customers those options. The bill, which has yet to be finalized, is said to also force companies "to destroy or anonymize the information once it is no longer needed" if customers decided not to allow for online tracking.

The new bill is being written in the wake of the revelation last month that Apple's iPhone has been shown to track its users movements across the nation since at least July 2010. That got the attention of federal lawmakers who have expressed concerns of how that data is being stored and used by Apple and other companies. One cell phone provider, Verizon, has already pledged to put a new sticker on its phones warning customers that their movements might be tracked. Senator Rockefeller said that his new bill will offer folks protection from such practices, saying, "Consumers have a right to know when and how their personal and sensitive information is being used online -- and most importantly to be able to say 'no thanks' when companies seek to gather that information without their approval."

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12 Comments

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good smartphones give you the option to opt-out of such tracking, or never had the functionality to begin with.

The ones with ****ty reception are the only ones that you have to worry about. Still tho, you use the towers so removing tracking is nearly impossible - You always see a tower and theres a signal strength as well which can be reported to the carrier. Long of the short is the carrier ALWAYS knows where you are. This information is defiantly sold as well.

I believe every cell phone with a GPS should automatically enable the GPS and email or teletext the coordinates to a 911 callcenter when a 911 call is placed. They should also show up on the phone screen to repeat to the call center if requested. Thats my own personal opinion. Why have GPS unless you utilize this feature? They should also be able to see where the device was 20 minutes previous and post of the 911 call.

How about something like an opt-IN, instead of opt-OUT? I don't want to be opted in by default, I want to be opted out unless I specifically want to opt in.

Sorry but people think Google is a great organization, but when they sell every bit of info they can figure out about you, who's more evil, a company who makes software and sells it to you or one who gives it to you for free for selling all your private info?

Hercules said,
How about something like an opt-IN, instead of opt-OUT? I don't want to be opted in by default, I want to be opted out unless I specifically want to opt in.

Sorry but people think Google is a great organization, but when they sell every bit of info they can figure out about you, who's more evil, a company who makes software and sells it to you or one who gives it to you for free for selling all your private info?


Is it just me or does it feel like Google is being made out to be a bad guy simply because it doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator of intelligence. Do you really need them to hold your hand because you can't be bothered to read the opt out notification?

I totally disagree with people like Hercules and here is why: The reason that Google even tracks the location information is so that they can provide better services to bolster the use of their product. Do you really think Google sells that information? That would totally ruin their competitive advantage. There is a serious lack of understanding on the consumers part about what Google does with that information, but it the fault of consumers like Hercules because they choose not to read.

Hercules said,
Sorry but people think Google is a great organization, but when they sell every bit of info they can figure out about you, who's more evil, a company who makes software and sells it to you or one who gives it to you for free for selling all your private info?

Do you have a source for that or are you just spouting nonsense?

Hercules said,
who's more evil, a company who makes software and sells it to you or one who gives it to you for free for selling all your private info?

The one that sells your information without your knowledge, which is probably both. Our personal data, whether it's online or offline, should be our private data. It shouldn't be something that is bought or sold.

TechJunkie81 said,
The Senator is Jay Rockefeller and a Democrat not a Republican

Of course he's not a republican. Give the republitards enough time, they'll tie online tracking to national security and oppose this.

I don't see how this is even needed. Apple released an update which lets you opt out and Google gives you the option from the get go. This is simply a politician riding the popularity of a topic to improve his own standing.

In the land of Google, Facebook among others I doubt this will get anywhere. It won't be allowed to pass. Privacy and tracking is all over the place, hard to put things in one basket as well, the bill would be unlikely catch everything. It's really not in companies interest for this to pass. Information produces a lot of money.

Not sure about that. Imagine trying to oppose that law. That's like going on record saying that you hate kittens, bunnies, and Freedom (capital F).