April 27, 2009 / 4:08 PM / 9 years ago

FTC says Internet firms near "last chance"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Companies that track consumer behavior on the Web for targeted advertising without proper consent are near their “last chance” to self-regulate, the head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

Privacy advocates say regulations on big phone and Internet companies, such as AT&T Inc and Google Inc, are too lax, giving the firms excessive control over consumers’ personal information.

“From my perspective, the industry is pretty close to its last clear chance to demonstrate” that it can police itself, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington.

Earlier this year, the FTC issued new guidance urging websites to tell consumers that data is being collected during their searches and to allow them to opt out.

If companies fail to do a better job of making their privacy policies understandable to the average person, momentum will keep building for greater regulation, Leibowitz said. “It’s really up to industry.”

Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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