November 6, 2015 4:49 PM EST

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it can’t force Internet companies like Google, Facebook and ad providers from tracking users online. The commission had been petitioned by the privacy advocacy group Consumer Watchdog to make the “Do Not Track” setting in many browsers illegal to ignore.

“Do Not Track” was created by researchers as a standard signal browsers can send along with other data when visiting a website. When detected, it is supposed to limit the amount of data advertisers and other online tracking companies collect. That reduced collection, however, must be voluntary: The setting merely indicates a preference. . .

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