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Can the FTC really stop tracking?The Federal Trade Commission is proposing ‘Do Not Track’ legislation similar to the ‘Do Not Call’ legislation that attempted to stop cold callers in the United States. Some marketing firms are tracking your personal movements across multiple websites, regardless of what they say. When you get a telephone marketing call from a company just a few minutes after you land on their home page, it’s hard to pretend otherwise.

The question is whether the FTC will actually be successful. Who is going to monitor whether marketing companies will actually follow the letter of the law, much less the spirit? I would like to see the legislation pass, but first I would like to know how they’re going to make it happen. Making a ‘Do Not Track’ check box part of the web browser experience will only work for those who know enough to put it to use. If there are any gray areas, rest assured, some marketer will adapt to use it, whether the methods are ethical or not. Regardless of how it’s set up, if I say I don’t want to be tracked, I don’t want them to track my IP, use cookies or keep any other records about my sojourn through distant websites where I don’t want to be tracked.

What happens on member sites? Amazon constantly tempts me to look at stuff I’ve already looked at, knowing I’ll be likely to go back if it’s made available on my screen. What if I don’t want them to do that? What happens on sites like New York Times and Facebook, where companies like quantserve, doubleclick and revsci are constantly tracking our every move? More questions than answers… If current legal methods of tracking are disallowed, I’m curious what the next tracking method will be and whether it will cause marketers to push further into what amounts to digital stalking. At this point I have more questions than answers.

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