The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article describing how we are monitored on the internet.  Most sites now install a tracking function that allows them to record everywhere you go on the web.  It's not a coincidence that the ad you see on Facebook is related to the book you searched on Google or purchased on Amazon. 

On Friday, long overdue legislation was introduced to create an internet "do not track" list. 

Here is the press release from the ACLU:

Bill Would Protect Privacy Of Internet Users

February 11, 2011

WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) today would institute much needed privacy guidelines for Americans’ online information.

New, intrusive marketing tactics are tracking Americans’ movements online to create detailed profiles that can then be shared widely with other advertisers, employers and the government. Today’s bill would create a “do not track” list, which would allow consumers to opt out of having their online activity tracked, stored and shared with private companies for use in targeted advertising or for other purposes.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a report in December advocating for the implementation of strong protections for Americans’ online activity, including the creation and implementation of a “do not track” list. The American Civil Liberties Union supports the creation of a “do not track” list as it would create a barrier against unwarranted surveillance and targeting of Americans.

The following can be attributed to Christopher Calabrese, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“It’s crucial that Americans have as much control over their online privacy as possible and this bill is a welcome and important first step toward that goal. Signing on to the Internet shouldn’t mean signing away your privacy. Americans must have a mechanism in place to opt out of having their online habits tracked so that they can protect their most sensitive information. A ‘do not track’ list is a logical and common sense place to start. We urge the House to make this bill a priority.”


[ACLU Online Newsroom]