On November 17, 2011, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, issued a statement emphasizing the need for increased consumer protection on the Internet. Rockefeller cited “disturbing” reports about Facebook’s ability to track non-members and members who have logged out of the site, stating that companies should not be tracking users without their consent.

According to the statement, which followed a USA Today article regarding Facebook’s tracking practices, Senator Rockefeller is planning a hearing to question Facebook and other companies about their collection and usage of personal information. The USA Today article provides insight into how Facebook uses cookies and other technologies to track the browsing patterns of members and non-members, and suggests that the company has the ability to track members even after they log out of the Facebook website. Senator Rockefeller’s statement comes shortly after media reports that Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission are close to reaching a settlement over charges that Facebook “misled users about its use of their personal information.”

As we previously reported, earlier this year Senator Rockefeller introduced the “Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011” which would instruct the FTC to develop standards for the implementation of a Do Not Track mechanism.