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Putting Twitter’s “Do Not Track” Feature in Context

Twitter announces it will support a new feature in web browsers that gives users better internet privacy protection, an important step that's part of a larger Obama Administration strategy to encourage more consumer privacy protections online.

This week, we got some terrific news about new ways individuals can protect their privacy on the internet.

Twitter announced it will support the new Do Not Track feature in web browsers, giving users one-click control over whether or not Twitter keeps track of which websites they visit.  This is an important step is part of a larger Obama Administration strategy to encourage more consumer privacy protections on the internet.

As much as people use and love the internet and other digital technology, there has been a growing concern that rapid advances in technology can lead to an erosion of personal privacy.  As the Internet evolves, maintaining consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That's why the Obama Administration unveiled a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights in February, to give users more control over how their information is used online (download as PDF). Immediately an association of over 500 companies (including search engines, internet platforms, advertising networks and browser developers) committed to expanding individual control with “Do Not Track” technology before the end of 2012.  

Since the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights was announced, the internet community has pushed forward with new technology that makes more individual control a reality for millions of users. Every day online companies are developing new services that make innovative uses of personal data, and we’re pleased to see this same innovation applied to managing personal privacy.

The “Do Not Track” effort shows that collaboration amongst business, privacy advocates, technical experts, academics, standards organizations and government can lead to development of technologies that make the Internet more responsive to privacy needs. However, even with all of the innovative and responsible action by companies, there are others who fail to take adequate steps to protect individual privacy. That's why it is still important for Congress to take the next step and pass legislation to enshrine the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as the law of the land.

In the meantime, the actions of Twitter and others show that when companies are mindful of basic privacy principles articulated in the Obama Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and blueprint as they design their services, the very same creative energy that has led to the development of extraordinary new Internet technologies can also help to protect Americans’ privacy.