Consumers Union

As consumers become more aware of online terms such as tracking, cookies [not the good kind you eat], data mining, and other invasive expressions, privacy advocates have been stepping in and creating a voice for the people. One of those organizations who has taken initiative and has stepped forward to challenge numerous issues [both online and off] has been the Consumers Union (CU).

Founded in 1936, when advertising started to rule the airwaves and consumers lacked a reliable source to help them determine between hyped of bad products and quality ones. On the Consumes Union’s website they define themselves as, “an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers to empower consumers to protect themselves.”

Throughout its existence, the CU is provided consumer information on a broad range of products. In a continual growing technological world, the most recent CU stand has been at the forefront of the online privacy war.

This past March, the CU offered up praise for the final report on a framework for online privacy by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC report concludes that companies need to address consumer privacy by implementing a “Do Not Track” option which should be operating by the end of 2012 and takes a focus on mobile applications as well. The idea behind the “Do Not Track” is to be industry designed [but if companies cannot get their own technology rolling by the year’s end, ideally, lawmakers should be able to force those companies to figure out a different option, quickly], but an easy way for users to opt out of online tracking.

Ioana Rusu, member of the Regulatory Counsel for the Consumers Union, has had a long stand for online privacy and data security laws. In light of the release of the FTC final report, Rusu said, “This is a good report that reflects the growing concerns about online privacy, especially the fact that we need better tools and information to decide how our personal information is used.”

Rusu continued, “When we talk about online privacy, we’re talking about trust. A company needs customers to trust that their personal information is going to be treated with respect. If you don’t trust that a company is going to use your information responsibly, you’re going to be much less likely to adopt new services, and that hurts innovation.”


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