Definition or Death for DNT?


“One in three Brits is likely to stop using IE10 because of Do Not Track.   

Oh My!  That’s terrible!  But is it really accurate????

I’m a marketer.  I understand how statistics can be modified to support your specific business case.  I also get the value of a great “title” or sound bite.  This one certainly caught my eye.  I can appreciate a good fish tale.  And I understand how the precise wording of a question can skew survey results (would you rather pay $100 or $50 for this service?  Duh!).  I am also a citizen and consumer and I believe that privacy is a right to be protected and that users should have a choice in what data is shared, with whom, and for what purpose.

To that end, I care a lot about what is happening with Do Not Track, and Web privacy, in general.  Like most professionals I know, my self-imposed marketing rope is short, as in the end, you must deliver on what you promise or you’ll hang yourself and drive away customers.  Clarity is important.  Having clear, and agreed to definitions, or a common language is important if you don’t want your customers to be confused or misled.

So when I saw this headline, I was intrigued.  And boy is this one from  The Drum (Modern Marketing and Media) a whopper!  So I just had to read on because this is pretty heady stuff.  Why on earth would 1/3 of the people in Great Britain be so anti-IE10?   The quote that caught my attention was the following:

“According to the research, IE10’s plans to automatically disable tracking would upset some 87 per cent of Brits who favour auto-fill services and more relevant advertising. Of those surveyed 13 per cent stated they wouldn’t allow their browser to retain information, such as passwords, for future use.”

Auto-fill?  Seriously?  Do Not Track (in its current draft) has nothing to do with auto-fill.   It does not stop a website from collecting data from its users – just from sharing it with others without their permission.  And users can easily turn off DNT in IE10, just as easily as they can turn something on or off in any DNT supporting browser.

Now, I can’t say with absolutely certainty that there is some deliberate campaign on the part of certain parties to bash DNT into oblivion, but as a marketer, it sure looks like it to me. I’m sure their data absolutely supports the claims in the article, but the context of the question sure seems off target.  And that context is easily muddied given the lack of clear definition that currently exists within the DNT standards working group.  It’s no wonder that today, the W3C appointed a new chair to the DNT Standards working group – who by the way is more than an a professor.  He also happens to be a privacy attorney, not a technical expert.  Ever read a good contract. What’s the first thing in it – a definition of all terms so their is no ambiguity around anything.

So will it be death or definition for DNT???  

Make no mistakes, the stakes are enormous!

Posted in: Privacy, Uncategorized

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