E-commerce and Personalization
These days, a personalized Web experience is the norm. Websites remember us by name, shopping carts keep track, and targeted marketing is served up daily. How does “the Internet” know what targeted ads to serve? Cookies track online behavior, and the collected information is used to push you targeted products.
Online Privacy, Cookies, and Surveillance Technologies
Personalized content is made possible by “cookies” – also called “marketing cookies,” “web cookies,” “browser cookies,” or “HTTP cookies.” They’re tiny text files that websites embed in your browser. The browser sends the text file back to a server each time you access the site.
Cookies have a wide variety of uses. Programs use them to: a) save user-id and password information, b) identify user actions, proclivities, and habits, and c) save shopping cart contents.
Cookies are not the only surveillance technology that monitors online consumer behavior. Another tool called “Web beacons” are embedded in pages as tiny images. Each time the page is accessed by a user, a request is sent to the server. Web beacons are sophisticated and can track at a very detailed level.
“Do Not Track” Registry
In 2007, nine nonprofits submitted a proposal to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposing the creation of a “Do Not Track” registry modeled after the popular “Do Not Call” list.
In recent months, the idea of a “Do Not Track” registry is, once again, gaining traction. In July 2010, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz told a Senate panel that the agency was actively exploring ways to implement the registry. Meanwhile, the Boucher-Sterns bill — another business-focused data collection and storage law proposal — has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
Are the Boucher-Sterns Bill and the “Do Not Track” Registry Are Bad For Business?
If you operate a business with an Internet component, both the Boucher-Sterns bill and the “Do Not Track” registry may represent significant challenges. Consult with an Internet lawyer to learn more about how these policies may impact your company.
[May 2014 Update: The Boucher-Sterns online privacy bill died a quick death. It never got off the ground.]
Speak With An Online Privacy Lawyer
Do you have an online privacy issue related to your online business? If yes, contact Kelly / Warner Law today. We help many online businesses with a host of legal issues related to doing business on the Internet — including, but not limited to, online privacy, copyright, defamation, unfair competition, and FTC compliance. Our firm and founding partners are highly rated attorneys who know the niche exceptionally well. Get in touch today to begin the conversation.