Congressional hearings reveal that Internet companies routinely track behavior of visitors to websites, and as a result Congress is considering legislation to help personal privacy. Currently the Federal Trade Commission allows for self-regulation by websites, and websites need not have privacy policies, but if there are privacy policies the FTC expects adherence. Otherwise the FTC levies fines.



Unfortunately few Internet users ever bother to review the Privacy Policies of the websites that they visit, because if they did perhaps Congress would not be so shocked. Google and other major players retain data on visitors for 18 months, and even the EU recently was considering restricting the data retention to only 12 months (not that the 6 months additional data would change the fact that the ISPs were capturing information for their own purposes). Since the federal government allowed Google to purchase DoubleClick clearly everyone was aware of where Google was headed but to take advantage and use personal information about the Internet traffic.

Tracking information about web traffic is not bad, but when personal identifiable information is compromised consumers react. A number of major players submitted letters to the House Committee including AOL, Charter Communications, Earthlink, Time Warner Cable, and Yahoo! to name a few.

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