Consumer Protection – the Do Not Track standard – & the W3C
The Do Not Track standard is now live in every major OEM browser. Consumers who are interested can check a box marked ‘Tell Web sites not to track me’ and the browser will add a ‘header’ (a message) to every request the user makes in the browser, indicating to the Web server that the person does not wish to be tracked.
It really is incredibly simple – and it’s biased towards Consumer Protection, as it should be. However that’s not the end of the story. The W3C is being pressured to water down the spec via the advertising industry. Instead of the Tracking Protection Working Group it’s fast becoming the ‘Please God Don’t Let Us Lose Any Money’ Working Group. If you want to see how bad things are spend a few minutes/hours reading through the mailing lists – link (you’ll be shocked)
There have been lots of blog posts in the last few days on this subject – it’s culminated with Neelie Kroes Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda Online privacy and online business giving us an update on Do Not Track The Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)/Brussels, 11 October 2012 – link
If the W3C is going to retain ANY credibility from this process they have to ship a standard that is in favor on the consumer. Failure to do so is really not an option as the stakes are so enormous. The alternative is to bring in the regulators which is what Neelie’s next statement will be focusing on if Do Not Track fails to do the job it promised to do.
Every browser now supports sending the Do Not Track signal – what’s taking so long is figuring out all the myriad ways that the Web servers can ‘game the system’ to avoid it. They’d be better off served accepting it and moving forward, because if they don’t like Do Not Track they’re sure not going to like what the regulators have in store for them.