back to article Do Not Track is back in the US Senate. And this time it means business. As in, fining businesses that stalk you online

New legislation that would put teeth into the web's Do Not Track option for internet users, by fining companies that ignore it, will be introduced this week in the US Senate. The Do Not Track Act will be put forward on Tuesday by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and promises to be "similar to the national 'Do Not Call' list," by …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Lobbyists in the lobby

    And coming out of the woodwork in the senator's office I expect.

    He wont be popular if this goes through.

    Even GDPR is not functioning that well though, I find a lot of British sites are still making it almost impossible to opt out of cookie use.

    I assume they are banking on Brexit happening soon enough that they will be out before Europe can catch them.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: banking on [..] they will be out before Europe can catch them

      That will not help those that continue to deal with Europe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lobbyists in the lobby

      I find plenty of websites that, now, do make it easy, and even more than a few that default to only functional cookies.

      So we know it's technically possible, and the law is not at fault here, only people willfully not respecting. I encourage you to contact and/or report to your local ICO.

      Even after a Brexit deal is agreed upon, British laws won't change overnight, they'll just be a fork of the EU ones and will take a while to evolve away (if the deal allows for it)

  2. JassMan Silver badge

    Why do politicians want to make everthing overcomplicated.

    promises to be "similar to the national 'Do Not Call' list,"...Hawley envisions a simple option in your browser or in an downloadable app.

    All that is required is to force sites to obey the existing DoNotTrack browser setting. Not just with fines for non-compliance but jail time for the directors.

    The chances of anything like this becoming law though are the same as the fate suffered by the IRS offering citizens the ability to upload their tax returns for free.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Why do politicians want to make everthing overcomplicated.

      And, make web hosts legally liable for the behaviour of every bit of code run on their servers...

      ... or in the visitor's browser...

      ... hmm, actually that's not as simple as it sounds. Basically, it means every line of Javascript has to be vetted by the hosting company. That's maybe not a bad idea, but it certainly changes the landscape, and not all those changes will be for the better.

      For instance, it will hand yet another solid competitive advantage to Google/Amazon/etc., who could maintain their own solid libraries of pre-approved scripts. Good luck to up-and-coming hosts trying to keep up with those.

  3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    In prinicple

    This could be a good idea but the devil is in the details and I have no confidence in America's Native Criminal Class to find a way to use this to fleece the public and line their pockets.

    1. Chunky Munky
      Trollface

      Re: In prinicple

      ...America's Native Criminal Class...

      Oh, you mean lawyers!

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: In prinicple

        No, he means Congress.

        1. Bryan Hall

          Re: In prinicple

          Who are mostly lawyers!

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: In prinicple

            Who are mostly lawyers!

            Irrelevant, it is only a small minority of the lawyers (but the most crooked ones).

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: In prinicple

        Per Mark Twain Congress can be shown by facts and figures to be America's Native Criminal class (near quote).

  4. JohnFen

    Bad comparison

    "promises to be "similar to the national 'Do Not Call' list," "

    Considering that the Do Not Call list isn't very effective, I'm not sure that's a comparison that he'd want to be making.

    1. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

      Re: Bad comparison

      That was my thought as well. If it works as well as the the Do Not Call list, they might as well not bother.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Bad comparison

      > I'm not sure that's a comparison that he'd want to be making

      True, but on the other hand that's the realistic comparison to make, isn't it.

      You surely don't expect some efficient, silver bullet-type system, do you? It will at best be a framework of restricted applicability rules, heavily relying on voluntary restraint, and backed up by largely symbolic (if not voluntary) fines.

      1. JohnFen

        Re: Bad comparison

        "It will at best be [...]"

        In other words, it will be completely useless.

    3. Just An Engineer

      Re: Bad comparison

      "promises to be "similar to the national 'Do Not Call' list," "

      "Considering that the Do Not Call list isn't effective at all and mostly ignored,"

      FTFY.

    4. usbac

      Re: Bad comparison

      It's perfect then. It doesn't really work, so it keeps lobbyists happy (and keeps money train going), and it looks like they are "doing something" to the voters.

  5. Shadow Systems

    It means what it says: Do. Not. Track.

    We don't want you following us, collecting every nanoscopic bit of data about us you can, cramming those bits into a file about us, & then selling that file to anyone with a penny to add to your coffers.

    How would YOU like it if an army of voyeurs surrounded you, kept notes of your every action, recordings of your every word, video of your every nose pick, every site you visited, every purchase you make, every tv show you watch, every movie you stream, every song you listen to, every app on your SmartPhone, every time & for how long those apps were used, your physical location in real time with GPS tagging on a moment to moment basis, and every other aspect of your every living moment... all so we can broadcast it to the world+dog to enjoy on a PPV channel for our enrichment?

    Because that's what you're doing & that's what we want to stop.

    Stop tracking us. We may just decide to return the favor. You may be a multi billion corporation with thousands of employees, but We Are Legion & can storm your every structure to drag your asses outside & kick the shit out of by a mob of angry peasants armed with pitchforks, torches, & buckets of boiling pitch...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It means what it says: Do. Not. Track.

      "How would YOU like it if an army of voyeurs surrounded you, kept notes of your every action..."

      Why do you think the cameras are everywhere?

      "We may just decide to return the favor. You may be a multi billion corporation with thousands of employees, but We Are Legion..."

      ...but they have the Terminators, and if you'll recall we LOST that war.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: We Are Legion

      I like the idea, but I'm afraid the Legion is in front of the telly with a pint and can't quite be bothered to get all pitchforky right now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We Are Legion

        I'm just waiting for the Amazon delivery guy to drop off my newly ordered pitch fork.

        Once its here, I'll update my FB status / check Twitter for which villager's house we're converging on...

        Is there special uniform I should wear? (you're probably busy getting ready, I'll just Google it)

  6. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    Wait a second...

    Has the world gone crazy? This is the second piece of consumer friendly, anti-big business legislation (the other being the Anti-Robocall one) to come out of republican senators in the last week! Whats going on here? Republicans backing the people over businesses?

    Should I be watching out for the second coming of Jesus or perhaps the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Wait a second...

      It's all a dream... you will wake up in 5...4...3...2....1

    2. JohnFen

      Re: Wait a second...

      "This is the second piece of consumer friendly, anti-big business legislation (the other being the Anti-Robocall one) to come out of republican senators in the last week!"

      The world hasn't gone crazy. This is the second piece of legislation that will have no actual effect other than to convince some people that these politicians are "doing something". It's a con.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Wait a second...

        It's also important to realize that American parties aren't as unified as some parties in other countries. Although lots of other countries compete for internal chaos inside political parties, the parliamentary systems popular outside the Americas make consistent discord more fragile than does the presidential systems in the U.S. and many Latin American countries. One member of a party may be totally in favor of something that another member is extremely opposed to, and they can get into fights about whether it goes through or not before any other party gets involved. This particular lawmaker doesn't necessarily have the support of his party, and may not even have the support of many people in the legislature at all.

        1. JohnFen

          Re: Wait a second...

          "and may not even have the support of many people in the legislature at all."

          I'm not sure this part is true. Since Congress can straight-up tell the FCC what it can and can't do, the implication is that Pai has plenty of support there.

  7. LDS Silver badge

    "By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads"

    Really? It would be hard to find the screen space to show them, I guess...

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads"

      Really? It would be hard to find the screen space to show them, I guess...

      Screen space enough for some strange reason, might have something to do with that Pi-Hole, which makes tracking also a lot less simplistic.

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Thumb Up

        Pi-Hole. Set one up today!

        I set up a Pi-Hole about a month ago. What a wonderful use for an old Pi 2B I had kicking around. Apparently, it will run on a Pi Zero, too.

        66% of almost 20,000 DNS lookups got no further than my Pi-Hole in the last 24 hours. They really make browsing for the whole network a lot faster, and I never see an ad on any device.

        If you have an unused Raspberry Pi sat in a drawer, dig it out, and go for it.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads, more paywalls, and less content,"

    Actually the best way to interest-base an ad would be to place it on a web page whose content is directly related to the product being advertised.

    From the advertising industry's PoV this has the massive disadvantage of lacking lucrative, allegedly value-adding services which they can sell. The fact that it might provide the client with a better result is irrelevant.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Interest based ads

      My problem with interest based ads is that those ads invariably are for products I just bought and won't need again for at least another year.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Interest based ads

        My problem with interest based ads is that those ads invariably are for products I just bought and won't need again for at least another year.MMy problem with interest based ads is that those ads invariably are for products I just bought and won't need again for at least another year.

        Really? The ones I see are mostly for products that I researched and then decided not to buy because they were obviously crap.

    2. Sanctimonious Prick
      Childcatcher

      @Dr S

      Damn right!

      Before all this (online) tracking started, advertisements relevant to the content was the norm.

      Back then, if I did a search on bicycles, then went out and bought one in Stanmore, I wouldn't see advertisements for the next three weeks about bicycle sales.

      1. NuffSed?
        Facepalm

        The business model is what exactly?

        If I had a product to sell, the last person I want to advertise it to is the person who is least likely to buy it. Old Brit saying.. "Like selling coal to Newcastle" springs to mind.

        TBH, I think I would be very annoyed if someone pitched that advertisement model at me. Marketeers marketing marketeers' markets... (credit Grand-daughter for that one) or something like that.

        Still, I suppose, it's a tax deductible expense at the end of the day to get brand recognition for the fashion conscious unimaginative and perhaps brain-dead fanbois amongst us.

        Strange world we live in in. Can someone let me off now?

    3. LDS Silver badge

      The reason is it will give far more value to the "content owner" - the site that would display ads, than to "ads brokers" siphoning data from other - often irrelevant - sources.

      So, for example El Reg would have much more value to companies willingly to display IT/geek/nerd ads than DoubleClick or Facebook - and broker would be forced to share far more of the profits with content owners - exactly what they want to avoid.

  9. Evil Scot

    Basically Google, Facebook are breaking the law in the UK, Germany

    Placing code onto a computer for the purpose of gaining access to the machine at a later date.

    Securing access to a computer system without the permission of the owner.

    Can we lock up the directors for five years.

  10. Wade Burchette

    I would like to add something to the bill

    I would like to add something to the mandatory "do not track" legislation: Ban all autoplay videos except when I click on a clear link to a video. And the same for autoplay audio.

  11. SotarrTheWizard
    Trollface

    Track me all you want. . . .

    . . . . for 50% of the gross, not net, revenue you derive from my data. Don't want to pay me ? Zero Tracking.

  12. Claverhouse Silver badge

    "By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads, more paywalls, and less content"

    Just like the demented argument of ad-things that using adblockers works against you and is SELF-HARMING, as ads will have to get even worse to compete.

    .

    Although it's difficult to see what difference that makes to you if you have an ad-blocker.

    1. JohnFen

      "as ads will have to get even worse to compete."

      Personally, if we had more ads but none of them tracked me, I would consider that a great improvement over what we have now.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      as ads will have to get even worse to compete.

      I only started blocking ads when it got so bad I couldn't stomach it any more. Now I am wondering why I didn't get myself a Pi-Hole much sooner.

  13. 404

    Between Facebook & Google...

    .. there is no way it makes it into law with any teeth whatsoever... as per usual.

  14. simonb_london

    Governments

    How about bringing our governments that track us online to justice?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Governments

      The government IS justice. Sovereign Immunity and all...

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