Privacy advocates were furious after the FCC ruled that websites did not have to honor users' 'Do Not Track' requests.
The United States Federal Communications Commission issued a new ruling on Friday that has sparked outrage among privacy advocates. According to a report from Ars Technica, the ruling states that websites such as Google and Facebook will no longer be forced to honor “Do Not Track” requests from their users.
The ruling basically gives companies free reign on the type of data they are allowed to collect and store about their users. The ruling overturned a petition that would have required these companies to honor the requests of their users who wished not to be tracked.
The petition asked that the FCC instate a “rulemaking proceeding requiring ‘edge providers (like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn) to honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests from consumers.” This would require companies to gather a consumer’s written consent before they would be allowed to trace their activity.
Under the petition’s stipulations, users would have the option to engage a ‘Do Not Track’ setting in their web browsers, which would preclude them from being tracked by third parties. In the absence of any sort of legal requirements to do so, however, companies have largely ignored these user requests and tracked their users anyway.
Nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog filed the petition, citing consumers’ privacy concerns and the far-reaching implications of allowing internet companies to gather unlimited amounts of data about their users. They wrote, “Many consumers are as concerned – or perhaps even more worried – about the online tracking and data collection practices of edge providers… edge providers collect the same sensitive personal information that broadband internet access service providers collect, and that the Commission is committed to protecting. If the Commission does not act to regulate the collection of personal information by edge providers, the Commission will in effect be granting a regulatory advantage to the edge providers, implicating concerns of market distortions.”
The FCC shot down the petition on Friday, citing its desire to leave the Internet unregulated in this respect. The Commission claimed that Consumer Watchdog’s proposal would not be consistent with their “articulation of the effect of its reclassification.”
The text from the FCC’s ruling can be found in a press release here.