Grant Gross reports:
Two senior U.S. lawmakers say they’re “troubled” by the collection of personal data at many websites, and they want details on how much data 15 popular sites collect and what the sites do with the data.
Representatives Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, sent a letter Thursday to 15 sites, including ones operated by Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO) and Comcast (CMCSA). The two lawmakers, both senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in the letter that they were concerned about the data privacy practices outlined in a recent Wall Street Journal series.
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According to a press release on Congressman Markey’s site, the letter asked recipients:
- What information about consumers does your company collect, either through your own website or through business relationships with third parties?
- Do have business relationships with third parties, including analytics firms?
- How does your company collect such information (e.g., cookies, beacons, Flash cookies, other surveillance technologies)?
- Does your company serve different pages to visitors, based on information derived from tracking devices? If yes, please explain.
- Does your company target individuals based on their health or financial status? Are there any user search or usage habits that your company will not use for targeting purposes or tracking? If yes, what are they?
- If your company tracks or targets visitors, how does it notify visitors to your company’s site of this practice? If it does not provide notification, why not?
- If a user does not want to be tracked or targeted upon visiting your site, how would the user effectuate this preference?
Letters were sent to: Dictionary.com; MSN.com; Comcast.net; AOL.com; Merriam-Webster.com; Photobucket.com; Answers.com; Careerbuilder.com; MSNBC.com; Live.com; Myspace.com; Yahoo.com; Verizonwireless.com; Yp.com; About.com
A representative letter can be found here: http://markey.house.gov/docs/letter_-_edge_providers_-_comcast_-_8-5-10.pdf