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US Senator plans to propose anti-online tracking law this week


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The debate over the tracking of smartphone customers over the last few weeks could lead to a law that in theory will allow consumers the rights to shut off such features. Advertising Age's web site reports that US Senator John Rockefeller, a Republican serving the state of West Virginia, says that he plans to introduce a bill sometime this week that will give such users a way to opt out of being tracked by cell phone companies

The bill, which will be called the Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011, would also allow for the government's Federal Trade Commission to prosecute companies that fail to give customers those options. The bill, which has yet to be finalized, is said to also force companies "to destroy or anonymize the information once it is no longer needed" if customers decided not to allow for online tracking.

The new bill is being written in the wake of the revelation last month that Apple's iPhone has been shown to track its users movements across the nation since at least July 2010. That got the attention of federal lawmakers who have expressed concerns of how that data is being stored and used by Apple and other companies. One cell phone provider, Verizon, has already pledged to put a new sticker on its phones warning customers that their movements might be tracked. Senator Rockefeller said that his new bill will offer folks protection from such practices, saying, "Consumers have a right to know when and how their personal and sensitive information is being used online -- and most importantly to be able to say 'no thanks' when companies seek to gather that information without their approval."

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