California do-not-track-bill could lead the nation in online privacy laws


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California may end up leading the way in creating laws that could end the siphoning of personal data and surfing habits on the Internet by Web browsers and websites.

State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) introduced legislation Wednesday that would create the nation’s first formal do-not-track law, an idea that has been mulled over on federal levels for months.


Times reporters Marc Lifsher and Jessica Guynn reported on Lowenthal’s new bill Wednesday, writing that the law would create a system that would tell websites not to monitor the actions of Web surfers on not only computers but also smartphones, tablets and any other device that accesses the Internet.

From Lifsher and Guynn’s report:

Momentum is growing for do-not-track legislation, either as a stand-alone protection for consumers or part of more comprehensive privacy reform, privacy experts say. California’s bill signals that the final push might come from the states, not the federal government. ‘The states have been quiet in this area for a couple of years,’ said Mike Zaneis, general counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for the $23-billion online industry. ‘Leave it to California to jump in.’ Lowenthal said he believed a law could be enacted quicker in California because Democrats control the Legislature and the governor’s seat. Even so, he said, protection of Internet privacy is not a particularly partisan issue, because all lawmakers’ constituents are concerned about privacy for themselves and their children. ‘I’m interested in this, and I think there may be some abuses in this area,’ said state Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will hold an initial hearing on the Lowenthal bill on April 26. ‘California does have a track record of leading the way on privacy issues.’

Lowenthal’s bill is similar to legislation introduced into Congress in February by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), who is also from California, and others, Lifsher and Guynn noted.

For their full report on the new bill, read Online ‘do not track’ bill introduced in California Senate.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles