FTC Chairman Leibowitz: More Privacy Could Actually Bring Bigger Revenues For Web Giants

Privacy guidelines such as the “Do Not Track” option proposed by the Federal Trade Commission does not necessarily mean the end of the kind of targeted online ads that have brought such riches to web companies over the past decade. In fact, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz says, more privacy on the Internet could actually bring the industry much more money that it attracts now.

When it comes to advertising paying the way for the bulk of the Internet’s content and innovation, Leibowitz said in an on-stage conversation this morning at the D10 Conference in Southern California that “no one wants to undermine that, and I don’t think the FTC’s policy prescriptions would.” The proposed changes would simply make companies come up with a less invasive way to target advertisements, he said: “A ‘Do Not Track’ alternative for third party cookies is a pretty modest proposal for protecting consumer privacy.”

It’s not just regulatory agencies who are welcoming of some increased privacy policies on the web, Leibowitz added. Even profit-minded executives have expressed support for “Do Not Track,” according to him. “I’ve heard from chief captains of the tech industry and CEOs that this is a good thing for this industry, because there is a virtuous cycle here,” he said. “The more control consumers have over the internet, the more they trust it and the more commerce they do…. this is good for business.”

If the proposed policies are implemented, Leibowitz said, “We will have a vibrant internet ecosystem and we will also have privacy protected ina meaningful way.”

“Do Not Track” as a concept has received general support from major internet portals and browser providers such as our own parent firm AOL, Yahoo, Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft — although some of these firms have differing opinions on how new policies should be implemented and what exactly they should entail. Social networking sites such as Twitter have also stated support for “Do Not Track” initiatives.