U.S. representatives Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) sent a letter today to 15 companies identified in a recent Wall Street Journal investigation as installing consumer-tracking technologies to target users visiting these sites.
"We are troubled by the findings in this report, which suggest that the price of consumers' unfettered use of the Internet increasingly is surrender of their personal information, preferences and intimate details to websites, data monitoring companies, marketers and other information gathering firms that seek to track them online and develop digital dossiers for a range of purposes, including marketing," the lawmakers wrote.
"As Congress prepares to consider comprehensive privacy legislation, we request responses to the questions that follow to better understand your companies' practices in this area."
The representatives, who co-chair the House Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, asked for information on the companies' tracking and targeting of consumers on the Internet, which is activated when users visit the websites.
Some of the questions Reps. Markey and Barton asked include:
What information about consumers does your company collect, either through your own website or through business relationships with third parties?
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?
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?
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