Retailers don’t like FTC rules

Marc Sanchez Mar 28, 2012

We told you yesterday about the Federal Trade Commission’s new rules for businesses concerning consumer privacy. Basically, the FTC is asking companies to comply with a set of rules that allows you to hit a “do not track” button, rendering you anonymous to data collectors and salivating advertisers. It’s easy to see why advertisers might be opposed to the new rules. If they don’t know you, they can’t sell to you.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that retailers and direct marketers are weighing in against the rules too, however. If the FTC has its way, websites would need to scrub all your data after each transaction, so if you went to Amazon and bought “The Hunger Games” for your e-reader over the weekend, Amazon wouldn’t suggest you buy the next book in the series. As a consumer, you’ve probably come to expect that not only would Amazon suggest the next book, but that it would suggest books it thinks you might like based on your shopping habits, which can be pretty useful.

Let’s say you’ve been going to the same bar for 20 years, and let’s say your name is, I don’t know, “Norm.” You walk in and everybody greets you by name. There’s a beer waiting for you (your brand, of course) when you get to your stool – the same stool stool you have for years, perfectly contoured to fit you.  Well, if the bar had to abide by the FTC rules, every time you stepped foot in the bar, let’s call it “Cheers,” you would be greeted with a blank stare and stiff handshake.


Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.