Do Not Track Working Group Consensus – More Work Ahead

W3C working group that has struggled to reach agreement on industry “Do Not Track Rules” made progress in some areas issuing a consensus document during a May meeting in California.  W3C develops internet standards worldwide. The working group will proceed toward a “last call” July deadline to issue draft standards for public comment.

The issue before the group is the practice of behavioral advertising, which involves the tracking of consumers’ online activities for targeted marketing purposes.  The working group is trying to create voluntary “Do Not Track” standards by allowing consumers to make “Do Not Track” choices through their web browser settings.

Consumer advocates and the online advertising industry have clashed over how far “Do Not Track: standards should go.  Last year, Microsoft stymied the process by deciding to roll out a new IE 10 browser with a default “Do Not Track” setting.  The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), a consortium of marketing industry groups, objected.  They claimed that its members “will not be required to honor such a default approach because it reflects the choice of the browser manufacturer instead of the consumer and is inconsistent with industry standards.”

At an April 24 hearing before the Senate, the DAA accused Microsoft (and Mozilla) of failing to honor its commitment to cooperate with the “Do Not Track” effort. After the hearing, Senate Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) reintroduced bill S. 418 “Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013” to create mandatory Do Not Track rules, enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission.

Stay tuned for more information from the W3C Working Group and about Senate bill S. 418.

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