Google and other tech giants are quietly moving to exempt themselves from the “do not track” rule that Internet users can use.
In 2000, the Federal Trade Commission modeled the “do not track” plan after the highly popular “do not call” rule that allowed consumers to opt out of call lists held by companies, advertisers and telemarketers. Under the plan, Internet users could decide to go incognito, avoiding the cookies and site tracking done by mega-companies.
But now, according to the New York Times, those same tech giants are balking at the implementation of the rule.
“An industry working group is expected to propose detailed rules governing how the privacy switch should work. The group includes experts but is dominated by Internet giants like Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo. It is poised to recommend a carve-out that would effectively free them from honoring ‘Do Not Track’ requests,” the Times reports.
It gets worse.
“If regulators go along, the rules would allow the largest Internet giants to continue scooping up data about users on their own sites and on other sites that include their plug-ins, such as Facebook’s ‘Like’ button or an embedded YouTube video. This giant loophole would make ‘Do Not Track’ meaningless.”
So are the tech giants pulling a fast one? Not really, according to the Times.
“For starters, the Federal Trade Commission doesn’t seem to fully understand the nature of the Internet.” Well, duh. The FTC apparently didn’t really get that companies make their fortunes by gleaning online data and either cashing in on it or selling it to others. Digital advertising is a $50 billion business and the biggies are telling the FTC to mind its own business.
And the Times has a fantastic solution: “If the government wants to shift the Internet economy away from a ‘barter’ system (exchanging personal data for free services) toward a subscription-based system, Congress should take charge.”
Yup, government should step in to fix the problem created by government.
Where all this goes is anyone’s guess. Stay tuned. But prepare for more government involvement, which, as anyone knows, always solves everything.