A coalition of consumer and Internet rights groups is concerned the growing use of behavioural tracking is open to abuse.
Behavioural tracking is creating a user profile based upon the websites visited. Behavioral tracking is widely employed by the major Internet advertising networks.
Ars technia reports a coalition of consumer and Internet rights groups have sent a joint open letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The letter states the concerns the coalition has and presents possible proposed regulatory guidelines the coalition feels will, if enforced, protect users.
The Internet advertising industry has undergone considerable consolidation over the past few years and this means a few, large advertising companies can broadly track user behavior across the entire Internet.
Ars technia quotes the letter as saying, "For four decades, the foundation of US privacy policies has been based on Fair Information Practices: collection limitation, data quality, purpose specification, use limitation, security safeguards, openness, individual participation, and accountability. Developments in the digital age urgently require the application of Fair Information Practices to new business practices. Today, information from consumers is collected, compiled, and sold secretly, all done without reasonable safeguards."
The coalition iscomposed of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Center for Digital Democracy, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Consumers Union, as well as a few otehrs. They have put forward a set of policy recommendations.
The recommendation include limiting tracking and refusing to extend to collection of "sensitive" information, such as data pertaining to finances, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
In addition, it will be necessary for companies to state the reason they want to gather the information and limiting the time they can retain the information to the time it takes to complete that purpose.not be permitted to keep it for longer than is necessary to fulfill that purpose, the letter says.
Rebecca Jeschke is EFF's Media Relations Director and in a recent entry in her blog she wrote. "Tracking people’s every move online is an invasion of privacy. It’s like being followed by an invisible stalker – individuals aren’t aware that it’s happening, who is tracking them, and how the information will be used. They’re not asked for their consent and have no meaningful control over the collection and use of their information, often by third-parties with which they have no relationships."