Congress eyeing online privacy

Seasoned bloggers, social networkers, and mobile-phone Twitterers pretty much know their lives are very public, but they're also concerned about their privacy, the New York Times points out. "Those same questions of data collection and privacy policies are attracting the attention of Congress, too," the Times reports, so lawmakers are doing some information-gathering: "On Aug. 1, four top members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters ordering 33 cable and Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Comcast and Cox Communications, to provide details about their privacy standards. That followed House and Senate hearings last month about privacy and behavioral targeting, in which advertisers show ads to consumers based on their travels around the Web. One apparent result, the Wall Street Journal reports, is that "Yahoo Inc. said it will allow users to stop receiving targeted ads based on factors like what Web pages they visit or other ads they click on." The Journal added that "Google, Microsoft and a number of Yahoo's competitors already allow customers to opt out" of such ads.

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