Companies that surreptitiously collect marketing data on Web surfers must
disclose their practices and give consumers a chance to withdraw the
information under a
bill introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives.
The bill's sponsor, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts), said
consumers should be told if information is being gathered on them and if it
is going to be sold or reused, according to Bloomberg news service.
Consumers should also have the right to stop a company from collecting
information, such as their names, addresses, buying preferences, favorite
Web site, computer purchases, and other personal information.
Many companies, including McDonald's
and Walt Disney, gather information
about consumers through their Web sites, particularly on children. While
Disney's site does bear a disclaimer warning that information gathered will
be subject to unrestricted commercial use, many sites do not.
Markey said the practice amounts to "a hijacking of personal information,"
and a violation of privacy.
The bill would not mandate federal regulation of the Internet but
instead require the Federal Trade
Commission and the Federal Communications
Commission to determine if industry standards exist to protect
consumer privacy. Regulations would be imposed by the agencies only if
adequate security doesn't exist or if a particular industry
refuses to comply voluntarily.
Rules issued for online