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US moving towards EU standards… Do Not Track Legislation moving forward

According to MarketWatch, Legislation was proposed in California that would mandate a means for web users to easily prevent websites from gathering their personal information is moving forward, despite intensive lobbying and opposition from some of the state’s largest Internet firms — including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.

The so-called Do Not Track Internet privacy legislation introduced by California State Senator Alan Lowenthal would require Internet companies to give users a way to comprehensively opt out of having information, such as their name or location, collected online. Companies that fail to comply could face civil legal action, according to the bill.

California’s State Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Tuesday to move Lowenthal’s Do Not Track bill forward to the Appropriations Committee. Lowenthal said during the committee hearing that his legislation “is consistent with California’s long history of championing privacy issues.”

However, Fred Main, a representative of TechNet, a policy group representing technology companies, countered during the hearing that by stifling the Internet firms that spur much of the economic growth in the state, the bill would be “the equivalent of Texas stopping the oil industry.”

Facebook, Google and other Internet firms have lobbied California lawmakers this year on Sen. Lowenthal’s proposed Do Not Track legislation, according to public filings.

Now most will say that this is taking the concept of security a little too far, but realistically we (The United States) is a little behind the times. The EU has had such laws on the books since 1981. The Data Protection Directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data) states “Personal data should not be processed at all, except when certain conditions are met. These conditions fall into three categories: transparency, legitimate purpose and proportionality” Now the trick here is “transparency”. Within the directive it also states that “Data may be processed only under the following circumstances (art. 7): when the data subject has given his consent…” Sooo… every site has to ask the person to consent.

Perhaps the major reason most of these companies are worried is because this has been their major downfall in the EU.