We last blogged about the Tracking Protection Working Group in June, immediately after the group’s face-to-face meeting in Bellevue. That meeting was productive and laid the ground work for further progress. The “Tracking Preference Expression” (DNT) header is now implemented in shipping versions of Firefox, Opera, and Safari, and in preliminary implementations of Internet Explorer. Participation in the group includes browser vendors and large Web properties, associations and practitioners from the advertising and analytics businesses, academics, consumer advocates and representatives of key regulatory agencies from the EU and the US. The media has covered the group’s activities extensively and in detail.
Additionally, W3C is preparing a Workshop to chart next steps for W3C’s work on Web privacy and tracking for the fall of 2012. This workshop will also be an opportunity to share lessons learned implementing Do Not Track, evaluations of its impact, and to provide input into the group’s high-level direction. We expect to announce the workshop officially in the near future.
There has been a lot of progress, but the Working Group is not done. It faces the important challenge of finding a consensus on what it means to comply with a Do Not Track preference.
The group has explored the solution space thoroughly and considered (but not adopted) several proposals. Compromise will be necessary to make progress, and we are driving to reach a compromise among the participants during the fall. The participants know they need a standard for the Web, and that a standard they agree upon is much preferred to alternatives that seriously damage either business interests or the online privacy needs of individuals around the world.
Today, W3C has extended the group’s charter through the end of 2012. Now is the time for the participants of the Tracking Protection Working Group to step up, and forge a consensus that will serve all interests and the long-term health of the Web.