W3C

Progress and support for Do Not Track in Brussels

Fourteen months ago, the US Federal Trade Commission issued a staff report on privacy that endorsed a Do Not Track mechanism; seven months ago European Commissioner Neelie Kroes laid out her challenge to standardize Do Not Track by June 2012. And last week, the Tracking Protection Working Group held its third face-to-face meeting in the iconic Berlaymont building in Brussels: we thank the Commission for their hospitality.

Commissioner Kroes welcomed the group noting the importance of a standardized solution to help with legal compliance — what Kroes’s adviser Carl-Christian Buhr labeled “a common tool and approach”. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who observed part of the meeting, praised the W3C practice in his remarks: “an approach that we like enormously invites everyone to the table in an open, public and international consensus-building process”. And both the Commissioner and the Chairman noted the breadth of representation at the meeting; we welcomed the participation of browser vendors, online advertising trade groups, analytics providers, data protection authorities, Web publishers, academics and consumers rights groups, among others.

This meeting represents a significant milestone in the group’s work, transitioning from mapping out the problem space to resolving significant issues. We had a very full and very productive three days in Brussels, closing more issues than in the prior four months combined. The public can expect to see new and more complete drafts published within the month.

Hard work still lies ahead: remaining open issues include the exact definition of the extent of a “party”, the breadth of exceptions for “operational purposes” and details of a JavaScript API. We are excited to see energetic progress and participation within the group and appreciate the ongoing support of both EU and US officials.