The Federal Trade Commission had some sharp words for internet companies Feb. 12, saying that they are not explaining to their users clearly enough what information they collect about them and how they use it for advertising, reports the New York Times. For now, the commission is sticking to its view that the internet industry can voluntarily regulate its own privacy practices. But the tone of the report, and comments by several commission members and staff officials, indicated that if the industry does not move faster, the agency would increase regulation or call for Congress to legislate stricter online privacy rules. The commission also released an update to its principles for what it calls online behavioral advertising–ads shown to the user based on past patterns of behavior. These are voluntary guidelines first issued at the end of 2007. The new guidelines suggest that web sites explain how they collect and use data in a "clear, concise, consumer friendly, and prominent" way. Few sites meet that standard right now, the commission found. Groups that want better online privacy were mixed in their reaction. Some praised the new, tougher standards for targeted ads. But others argued that the commission did not go far enough to regulate all the different ways that internet companies monitor users…

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