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FTC wants to fight cookies with cookies in new "Do Not Track" scheme

The Federal Trade Commission issued a report yesterday outlining what it feels must be done to ensure the privacy of the average netizen. Key points of the initiative include making consumers much more aware of what they're agreeing to when it comes to their privacy, and instituting a "Do Not Track" scheme that could use cookies to ward off other cookies.

The first thing they want to change is the dreaded Terms of Service. By making the average TOS short and simple, as opposed the much-maligned wall of text that we've become so accustomed to these days, the FTC hopes that consumers will actually read the text to which they're agreeing. The flip side of that coin is that the FTC also wants to alleviate some of the pressure that's been put on large companies -- like Google and Facebook -- by making it official that they "should not have to seek consent for certain commonly accepted practices."

That sounds like common sense to me, but there's one small problem: What we consider commonly accepted practices today is a far cry from what was commonly accepted 5 years ago, and it's not difficult to imagine how slippery that slope could get in the next decade.

So, simplifying the issue of privacy is a good start, but what about policing it? The FTC thinks that a "Do Not Track" mechanism should be put in place to keep people who opt out of targeting marketing out. The idea they've floated is to use persistent cookies to ensure that users are always recognized as opt-outs when the targeted-advertising cookies come their way. Sounds simple enough.

Now, if only there were a cookie that could do something about the irony of using a persistent, government-backed cookie to stop the persistent, corporate-marketing cookies.

Tags: browsers, cookies, evercookie, FTC, government, internet, privacy, TOS