That’s what the Obama Administration is purposing in a report released today calling for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which in part, asks search engine providers like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo! to add a “do not track” (DNT) button to their browsers. Those three tech giants have already said they will comply with others sure to follow. We all know, or at least we should, that browsers can track your web surfing habits. That’s how a company like Google makes its billions - it knows that you looked up the price of a new catcher’s mitt, then headed over to update your Thurman Munson fan page, before clicking on the Baseball Hall of Fame site*. And what do you know, up pops an add to buy Yankees season tickets on the sidebar of your GMail.
Adding a button is moot, however, if advertisers don’t sign on, because if you think about it, they are the ones who really want to follow you and find out your browsing habits to sell you more stuff. The report also says that advertisers will comply with DNT within nine months. So I guess we’re having a baby, America, and that baby’s name will be Privacy... or maybe More Control Over Online Privacy, but really that’s kind of long, so lets just call her Sally.
Keep in mind that this is all theoretical right now. The Administration is already working with Congress to draft legislation adopting the Privacy Bill of Rights, but for now companies are free to comply or ignore it.
*Can someone please tell me why Thurman Munson isn’t in the Hall of Fame? That’s kind of ridiculous, if you care about such things.