CFC Supports SB SB 761 (Lowenthal) – “Do Not Track Me”

Bill Update: SB 761 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 3 to 2 on May 3rd. The bill now moves to the Senate floor. SB 761 died in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Background:  Nearly 80% of Californians use the internet and nearly 45% use Facebook, but, today millions of Californians are unaware that their online behavior is being tracked; their data collected and sold to advertisers.

Unfortunately, there no longer is any anonymity on the Web. The most personal
information about people’s online habits is collected and eventually
bought and sold, often instantaneously and invisibly. Data collection
practices have become a business in themselves, driven by profits at
consumers’ expense. The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted these
practices’which included targeting children’in its groundbreaking series
"What They Know."

The type of data that is collected is far reaching. Anywhere from the
type of sites a person frequents, to the time of day and the location
from where the person is accessing the sites. Most disturbing, however,
is that the information that is being shared may include very personal
information such as a name, home address, email address, or financial

The Solution: SB 761 would offer consumers a "Do Not Track Me" mechanism, one of the most powerful tools available to protect consumers’ privacy on the web. The mechanism will allow anyone online to send Websites the message that they do not want their online activity monitored.

If SB 761 becomes law, California would be the first state in the nation to provide a person with the right to opt out of being tracked online. It is modeled after a federal Do Not Track bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA. While the federal legislation may ultimately pass, there is no reason to delay protections for citizens of California.

A poll by Consumer Watchdog last summer found that 80% of Americans support a Do Not Track option. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found that most Americans are worried about their privacy and security when they use Facebook and Google.

In addition, a recent Common Sense Media survey found 85% of parents said they are more concerned about online privacy than they were five years ago, and 75% of parents said they don’t think social networking sites do a good job of protecting children’s online privacy.

A Do Not Track Me mechanism gives consumers a simple way to tell websites not to spy on them and not to collect detailed profiles of their web usage. Consumers should have the right to control how their data is used or whether it is gathered at all.

As Consumer Watchdog – the sponsor of the legislation – noted: "Online commerce relies on consumer trust. Sadly, much of the current Internet business model is based on invasive and pervasive tracking of consumers’ online activities without their knowledge or control. This should not be the business model of a company whose motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil.’ Do Not Track legislation would give consumers meaningful protection and control.  It would build their confidence in the Internet ‘ a win, win situation for business and consumer."

CFC urges a yes vote for SB 761.