The FCC says it can’t force Google and Facebook to stop tracking their users

The Washington Post

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it will not seek to impose a requirement on Google, Facebook and other Internet companies that would make it harder for them to track consumers’ online activities.

The announcement is a blow to privacy advocates who had petitioned the agency for stronger Internet privacy rules. But it’s a win for many Silicon Valley companies whose business models rely on monetizing Internet users’ personal data.

It’s also the latest move in an ongoing battle to defend the agency’s new net neutrality rules, which opponents warned would result in the regulation of popular Web sites and online services. By rejecting the petition, the FCC likely hopes to defuse that argument. The rules, which took effect this summer, allow the FCC to regulate only providers of Internet access, not individual Web sites, said a senior agency official.

Consumer Watchdog, an activist group, petitioned the FCC in June to support a technology that would allow consumers to signal to Web sites that they did not want to be tracked. By clicking a button in their browser settings, users would have been able to send a “do not track” message to Web site operators when they surfed the Internet.

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There is no way that the government will ask Google, Facebook, and others to stop tracking your moves online because of the vast amount of intelligence that is derived, not necessarily on US citizens, but on foreign targets that continue to use these sites. However, you can bet that all of the data is retained and that these companies, whose scruples have been displayed time and again to be questionable, are likely selling the data to other countries, as well as to other companies.

Bottom line, you don’t want to be tracked, don’t use Google or any of its derivative sites, don’t use Facebook. Force them to change their policies by losing users of their systems. There are tons of alternatives out there. The only one service that I can think of that doesn’t have a good alternative is YouTube, and I would bet if someone were to come up with an alternative that featured the same services, not only would more people use it, but you would likely scoop up a large portion of the content creators from YouTube, as well. – OP

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