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Public Statements

Barton, Markey Call on International Internet Organization to Define "Do Not Track' to Include Both Collection and Use of Personal Data

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Location: Washington, DC

With "Do Not Track' technology soon to be supported by all major web browsers, and more than ten million consumers already expressing a preference for Do Not Track tools, today, Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent a letter to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This letter urges the international group of businesses, nonprofit organizations, universities, governmental entities, and individuals to consider both targeted advertising, along with the collection, use, sharing, or sale of personal information, as embodied in "Do Not Track'. Reps. Markey and Barton, co-Chairmen of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, write in the letter to the W3C, "It is time for industry participants to likewise move towards agreement by accepting a commonsense definition and governance structure for Do Not Track." The lawmakers also endorse "Do Not Track' as the default setting for all Internet browsers. Companies such as Twitter and Microsoft have recently led the way in the online industry by embracing user browser preference for "Do Not Track'.

"Privacy should be protected, not played with," said Rep. Barton. "It is preposterous to think that a group of several hundred business owners would consider voting to put the personal information of hundreds of millions at risk.

"More and more Americans have made it clear that they do not want to be tracked online, and I believe that it is in the best interests of all stakeholders to listen to their users.

"I am hopeful that the World Wide Web Consortium will not agree to ignore a "Do Not Track' signal simply because it is set as a default on a browser," concluded Rep. Barton. "While a consumer can benefit from targeted advertising, I firmly believe that they should have the choice to "opt in' to such usage of their personal information. It is evident to me to that until we have a privacy law in place, there will be no true privacy for consumers."

"Do Not Track also should mean "Do Not Collect'," said Rep. Markey. "Consumers have spoken -- they want more control over their personal information and a default setting to "Do Not Track' offers them the choice to opt-in to having their data collected and ads targeted to them. The W3C is at the forefront of developing global standards for the technology and policies governing the Internet. I urge the W3C to endorse tracking standards that reflect the point of view of consumers who believe that privacy is a right, and even if technology changes, the values of the users remain the same."

In May, Reps. Markey and Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced the "Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011", legislation that amends COPPA to extend, enhance and update the provisions relating to the collection, use and disclosure of children's and teenagers' personal information. The bi-partisan legislation also establishes new protections for the personal information of children and teens.


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