Of course, this is nothing new, and efforts at protecting consumer privacy have culminated in the Do Not Track protocol that has drawn support from Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple and is currently being standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium. Congress has also made an effort, introducing the Do Not Track Online Act of 2011 last May.
However, standards and legislation created to govern the use of technology to gather user data are unnecessary, Searls says. That's because alternative approaches to e-commerce can help businesses use data more effectively without having to monitor their activity and hoard their information.
"I don't think we need Do Not Track legislation," Searls says. "I think it's a bad idea at this stage, because we don't have the technical solutions to the problem, the problem basically being that we got stuck at client/server in 1995 with the first Web servers and especially with the invention of the cookie, and we have this normative system in which almost all the power resides on the server side and not on the client side."