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FTC calls on US lawmakers to protect online privacy

The Federal Trade Commission said in a new report that although there has been progress, new laws are needed to protect online privacy for consumers.

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FTC calls on US lawmakers to provide stronger laws protecting online privacy. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report Monday that urges US lawmakers to do more in protecting the online privacy of consumers.

According to the Washington Post, the report encourages a "do not track" approach, meaning that consumers should have the choice to be tracked by companies as to their browsing habits.

The FTC, a federal consumer protection bureau, said that by the end of the year it hopes consumers will have a "do not track" option that will potentially avoid the need for a federal law.

That said, the agency stated that it would support laws to implement new regulations if companies were not willing to cooperate, including allowing users to see the information that has been collected on them.

Forbes, however, said that the report did not specifically say that the FTC would support a law that makes the "do not track" option mandatory.

The "do not track" mechanism remains controversial because it might affect advertising that supports many free websites that provide important services, reported CNET.

Berin Szoka, president of the free-market think tank TechFreedom, said to CNET, "The FTC has wisely decided to steer clear of trying to design a Do Not Track mechanism by itself. I see this as the FTC deferring to the nerds, and wisely so."

The Washington Post reported that the Digital Advertising Alliance, which represents most web sites that contain advertising, are already working with the FTC to create a way to allow users to end tracking.

The report comes just over a month after the White House released a “privacy bill of rights” instructing companies to allow users more access to data - though the bill did not endorse the "do not track" option.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120326/ftc-calls-us-lawmakers-protect-online-privacy