FCC dismisses petition for websites to honor 'Do Not Track' requests

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dismissed a petition to require websites to honor “Do Not Track” requests.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dismissed a petition to require websites to honor “Do Not Track” requests.

Websites won't have to adhere to "Do Not Track" requests after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dismissed a petition, filed in June by Consumer Watchdog, asked the FCC to require “edge providers” like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn to honor them.

“Do Not Track” is technology that creates an HTTP header to signal users' preferences to opt-out of being tracked by websites they do not visit.

John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project, told SCMagazine.com that many industry advocates have been waiting for World Wide Web Consortium (W3c) to establish standards.

The W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group has been focused on privacy and user control issues, but Simpson said the group has been “weak” in enforcing compliance.

In February 2012, the Digital Advertising Alliance vowed to honor “Do Not Track” requests by the year-end, but that commitment was not fulfilled, and the trade organization pulled out of the agreement in September 2013. Edge providers Google, Facebook, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn are members of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DGA). Haymarket Media, publisher of SCMagazine.com, is also a member of DAA.

Critics of the FCC's net neutrality decision to reclassify broadband providers have accused the FCC of overreach. In March, the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom), a telecom trade organization filed a petition to review the net neutrality decision. AT&T and Verizon executives serve on USTelecom's board of directors.

Frustrated with the lack of progress toward “meaningful regulation,” Simpson believes it is within the FCC's jurisdiction to enact “Do Not Track” regulation. He told SCMagazine.com, Consumer Watchdog has 30 days to consider appealing the decision, and he said “we're certainly considering that very seriously.”

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