US congress puts pressure on developing Do-Not-Track standard

25/04/2013

In the hearing organised by US Senate Commerce Committee yesterday, its Chairman, Senator John D. Rockefeller, said that Do-Not-Track needs to become a reality, either voluntarily or through legislation.

“It is now April 2013, and consumers are still waiting for these Do-Not-Track standards.  Advertisers are continuing to ignore Do-Not-Track headers and consumers’ requests for privacy. I have long expressed scepticism about the ability – or willingness – of companies to regulate themselves on behalf of consumers when it affects their bottom line.”

“For months, industry stakeholders, consumer groups, academics, and other interested parties have been in negotiations at the World Wide Web Consortium – known as the W3C – attempting to reach an agreement on voluntary Do-Not-Track standards. But conflicting reports about W3C negotiations continue to surface.  On one side, I hear that the online advertising industry is deliberately dragging its feet, moving the goal posts, and refusing to stop collection practices that undermine the very essence of a meaningful Do-Not-Track standard.  On the other side, I hear that two software developers in particular, Microsoft and Mozilla, have prevented the W3C from forging consensus on voluntary Do-Not-Track standards, ” Rockefeller said.

W3C seeks to standardise the technology and meaning of Do Not Track, and produce specifications for a simple machine-readable preference expression mechanism ("Do-Not-Track") and technologies for selectively allowing or blocking tracking elements.

W3C holds weekly teleconferences and aims to finish work by April 2014. The next teleconference is on 1 May 2013. The group is open to new members.

Senator Rockefeller has for the past two Congresses introduced legislation that would create Do-Not-Track standards. Mozilla and the Digital Advertising Alliance were due to give testimony at the hearing.


On W3C Do-Not-Track working party, see http://www.w3.org/2011/tracking-protection/
For information about the Senate Committee hearing, see http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings

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