"We call on the commission to hold these companies responsible for their unfair and deceptive practices," John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, said in a letter to the FTC. "Once again we see a self-regulatory system established only to find a significant number of the participants in violation of the rules. The industry's opt-out system is bogus."
U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, also pointed to the study during a hearing on online privacy in the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday. The study shows the need for legislation to protect consumer privacy, he said.
"Self-regulation isn't working," he said. "Current law does not ensure proper privacy protections for consumer information."
Several committee Republicans questioned the need for privacy legislation, saying rules limiting the information Web companies can collect would lead to less free information and services offered online.
"Frankly, I am somewhat skeptical right now of both industry and government," Mary Bono Mack, a California Republican. "I don't believe industry has proven that it is doing enough to protect American consumers, while, government, unfortunately, tends to overreach whenever it comes to new regulations."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.