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Good news! The FTC is backing a plan called “do not track” that would “make consumer privacy the default position and would let Web users decide whether Internet sites and advertisers can build profiles of their browsing and buying habits as well as collect other personal information.” Sounds great. But, um, there’s a catch:

“I do not think that under the F.T.C.’s existing authority we could mandate unilaterally a system of ‘do not track,’ ” David Vladek, the director of the commission’s bureau of consumer protection, said Wednesday at a conference sponsored by Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit group.

“There are ways we could coax, cajole and charm industry in that direction,” Mr. Vladek said. But, he added, “If the decision was made by Congress that ‘do not track’ should be put in place immediately, it would take an act of Congress.”

So this requires Congress to do something? Then I guess that’s that. No privacy for you.

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