Thursday, February 23, 2012
Google's 'Do Not Track' Button
Google Inc. (GOOG) will allow a “do-not- track” button to be embedded in its Web browser, letting users restrict the amount of data that can be collected about them.
The world’s most popular search engine will join with other Web companies to support the anti-tracking initiative, which prevents an individual’s browsing history from being used to tailor ads, according to an e-mailed statement today. “We’re pleased to join a broad industry agreement to respect the ‘do-not-track’ header in a consistent and meaningful way that offers users choice and clearly explained browser controls,” Google Senior Vice President of Advertising Susan Wojcicki said in the statement.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, joined the initiative as the Obama administration unveiled plans to give consumers more control over their personal information online. Congress should enact a privacy bill of rights for Web users, the administration said in a report released today.
Revelations about potential privacy vulnerabilities during the past year have spurred calls from regulators and lawmakers in Washington for stronger protections of personal data online and on Internet-connected mobile devices. Google announced plans on Jan. 24 to unify privacy policies for products including YouTube videos and Android software for mobile phones, saying it will simplify conditions that users agree to.
Google and Facebook, the world’s largest social network, are among Web companies facing scrutiny over their handling of consumer data used to power an online ad market projected to reach $39.5 billion in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer Inc., a New York-based research firm. The White House report sets broad principles for the use of personal information that include giving consumers control over what data is collected on them and how it is used; providing understandable privacy policies; and handling consumer data securely. The Commerce Department will meet with companies and privacy advocates to develop voluntary standards for businesses based on the principles.
By Amy Thomson and Jonathan Browning