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Major Threat to e-Commerce – Compulsory Do-Not-Track Picking Up Speed

From CMA Watching Brief:

The creation of a compulsory, universal do-not-track mechanism that would threaten e-commerce by giving consumers the type of control they gained over marketers with the national do-not-call registry is picking up speed.

Most recently, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission this week called for the implementation of a universal do-not-track option that would allow consumers to opt out of all online tracking and interest-based (behavioural) advertising. Noting in their opinion that online companies have failed to protect the privacy of Internet users, the FTC specifically suggests the do-not-track mechanism take the form of an add-on to browsers, similar to a cookie. Consumers would then be able to check a box that would transmit their preference to opt out of tracking to websites as they surf the web. Such a mechanism, notes Thursday’s New York Times, could directly affect the billions of dollars in business done by online advertising companies and by businesses that collect highly focused information about consumers that can be used to deliver personalized advertising to them.

Here in Canada, the Federal Privacy Commissioner has consulted CMA and other business and consumer groups about the tracking and collection of data when consumers are online. In an effort to prevent unreasonably restrictive legislation or regulation, CMA has also worked with a coalition of trade associations to develop principles that would govern such practices in Canada. Enhancements to the CMA Code of Ethics have also been drafted that would serve to guide marketers in this area. These will be tabled for approval at the CMA Board of Directors’ meeting in December.

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