One month after a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report on improving online privacy, Google launched Keep My Opt-Outs which is a plugin that blocks ad tracking cookies. It gives users the ability to decide if they want to deny ad cookies; however, opting-out doesn’t mean the ads go away, it just means the ads become repetitive aka annoying.
Taking privacy of the anonymous searcher even further, Google has a beta plugin for Google Analytics. That means users can deny cookies that provide data to you such as how long they were on the site, if they are a new or returning users, etc.
Mozilla (Firefox) has created the Targeting Advertising Cookie Opt-Out (Taco) plugin that allows users to deny behavioral ads. And Microsoft has sated that a “Tracking Protection” feature will be part of the next IE version with features similar to Google and Mozilla’s plugins.
Why the New Plugins?
The FTC released a report in December 2010 titled, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”
There are three FTC guidelines in the report:
- Companies should incorporate creating and implementing privacy protections into their daily business procedures. This includes keeping the data secure, collecting only necessary data needed for specific business purposes, making sure the data is accurate, making sure data is kept only long enough to complete those business purposes and then safely eliminating the data.
- “Second, [...] that companies provide choices to consumers about their data practices in a simpler, more streamlined way than has been used in the past. Under this approach, consumer choice would not be necessary for a limited set of “commonly accepted” data practices, thus allowing clearer, more meaningful choice with respect to practices of greater concern.”
- Thirdly, the FTC suggests that companies continue to improve their privacy policies, so that, “interested parties can compare data practices and choices across companies.”
You can read the report (PDF) here.
If you’d like to comment on this issue or the report, submit your thoughts to the FTC by February 18.
Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers. Rep. Federal Trade Commission, Dec. 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2011.