This article was published on May 19, 2012

The Obama administration calls Twitter’s adoption of Do Not Track “an important step”

The Obama administration calls Twitter’s adoption of Do Not Track “an important step”

In a post shared on the official White House Blog today, the Obama administration expressed its support for Twitter’s move to join the ranks of sites employing the privacy feature, Do Not Track.

The privacy feature, which Twitter now supports in all browsers, allows users to opt-out of third-party tracking cookies, including those used for advertising.

In its post, the White House explained the importance of tech companies adopting the Do Not Track feature, emphasising the importance of seeing the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights become a reality:

As much as people use and love the internet and other digital technology, there has been a growing concern that rapid advances in technology can lead to an erosion of personal privacy. As the Internet evolves, maintaining consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why the Obama Administration unveiled a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights in February, to give users more control over how their information is used online (download as PDF). Immediately an association of over 500 companies (including search engines, internet platforms, advertising networks and browser developers) committed to expanding individual control with “Do Not Track” technology before the end of 2012.

Referring to Twitter’s move as “an important step”, the White House applauded the tech company for its decision:

In the meantime, the actions of Twitter and others show that when companies are mindful of basic privacy principles articulated in the Obama Administration’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and blueprint as they design their services, the very same creative energy that has led to the development of extraordinary new Internet technologies can also help to protect Americans’ privacy.

In stark contrast to social networking sites like Facebook, which at one point tracked users even when logged out, Twitter will soon be joined by Yahoo and Google who will be rolling out Do Not Track services of their own.

It hasn’t been all good news in Washington as far as Internet privacy is concerned. Privacy activists have been fighting against the ‘new SOPA’, CISPA, which has now made it past the House and is in the hands of the Senate.

CISPA would allow tech companies to hand over traffic information to the US government, under the guise of protecting against cyber threats. The problem with CISPA is that it opens the door to online surveillance, or worse.

That said, the Obama administration itself has already taken a stance against CISPA, putting the future of the bill into doubt, while simultaneously placing its weight behind the Do Not Track initiative.

The White House post about Twitter can be read in full here.