WASHINGTON - Federal regulators are proposing to create a "Do Not Track" tool for the Internet so consumers can prevent marketers from tracking their Web browsing habits and other behavior to target advertising.
The proposal, inspired by the government's "Do Not Call" registry for telemarketers, is among the recommendations in a privacy report released Wednesday by the Federal Trade Commission.
The report lays out a broad framework for protecting consumer privacy both online and offline as personal data collection becomes ubiquitous, often without consumer knowledge.
Protecting consumer privacy, the agency says, is critical since marketers are increasingly analyzing websites consumers visit, links they click, Internet searches, online and offline purchases, locations of wireless devices and personal information disclosed on social networking sites.
The agency envisions a Do Not Track tool as one important way to let consumers decline, or "opt out" of, much online tracking. The tool would most likely take the form of a browser setting that would apply across the board as consumers jump from site to site. It would clearly inform sites when tracking and targeted advertising are off limits for a particular browser.