Privacy Activity Proposal (July 2011)

Status: Announced as approved 8 September 2011.

Executive Summary

This is a proposal to add a Tracking Protection Working Group and Privacy Interest Group to the Privacy Activity.

Acceptance of this proposal will result in an extension of the Privacy Activity through 15 August 2013.

This Activity Proposal follows section 5.3 of the Process Document.


The evolution of Web technologies has increased collection, processing and publication of personal data. Privacy concerns are raised more and more often as applications built on the Web platform have access to more sensitive data — including location, health and social network information — and users' activity on the Web is tracked ubiquitously and invisibly.

Despite past Consortium efforts with the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P), data practice transparency and user control on the Web remain unfulfilled promises. Re-invigorated discussion among industry and regulators over "Do Not Track" has made clear the necessity of technical standards in the area of online tracking, an important privacy test case for the Consortium to address. Consensus-based processes must include the diverse stakeholders of the Web: users, browsers, advertisers, regulators and others.

Additionally, when privacy concerns emerge in ongoing specification work there is currently no standard approach for addressing those privacy considerations. Developing general expertise in privacy-by-design for Web standards will be key to handling ongoing and upcoming privacy issues.

The Privacy Activity builds on past activities of the Consortium (including the P3P Project and the Privacy Languages Interest Group) and the widespread interest in additional privacy work identified in the W3C 2011 Priorities and public workshops held at Vodafone, MIT and Princeton.


Charter Overview: Tracking Protection Working Group

The proposed Tracking Protection Working Group would standardize signaling user preferences and enforcing user control over Web tracking and build consensus on the meaning of, and compliance with, those preferences. Building on existing proposals as input, the group will move quickly towards building an industry standard to improve user privacy and better organize the technical response to requirements from regulators worldwide.

Initial Team Contact: Nick Doty (25%)

Charter Overview: Privacy Interest Group

The proposed Privacy Interest Group would consider privacy issues more broadly. We will encourage a broad public discussion of ongoing privacy concerns for the Web, but also produce guidelines for addressing privacy considerations in Web standards and recommendations of new privacy-specific work. The Interest Group can further serve as a locus of expertise for other W3C groups to coordinate with in understanding and addressing privacy concerns.

Initial Team Contact: Nick Doty (15%)


In order to obtain the necessary breadth of stakeholders, we may facilitate the creation of a Web Advertising Business Group or organize additional public workshops to invite feedback.


Assuming a prompt review from the Membership, we expect to issue a Call for Participation for both the Working Group and Interest Group in August 2011. Tentative target dates for additional Working Group milestones include:

A timeline of milestones for potential Interest Group deliverables will be determined by participants.


An extension of the Privacy Activity through 15 August 2013 is proposed.


Intellectual Property

All new Working Groups chartered in the W3C Privacy Activity are operating under the W3C Patent Policy of 5 February 2004 version. To promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented, according to this policy, on a Royalty-Free basis.


The Lead for the Privacy Activity is Rigo Wenning <rigo@w3.org>.
Please contact Nick Doty <npdoty@w3.org> with questions or comments.

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