The European Commission announced this week that it might sue the United Kingdom if that country fails to limit the tracking and collection of users’ Internet browsing habits and personal information without prior consent. The United Kingdom until now has adopted a self-regulatory approach similar to that followed by the Federal Trade Commission (we reported on the FTC’s revised behavioral marketing principles in this blog post). However, the European Commission has suggested that such an approach is insufficient because user consent is not obtained prior to collection.

According to reports, the Commission appears to be concerned that the U.K.’s failure to require that behavioral marketers obtain user consent before tracking Internet behavior violates the European Union’s strict Data Privacy Directive. The Directive prohibits the "processing" (very broadly defined) of EU residents’ personal information (also very broadly defined) without such residents’ consent.