The Tracking Protection Working Group has brought together players from the advertising and publishing ecosystems, browser makers, consumer groups, relevant governmental agencies and other stakeholders to forge a consensus solution for Do Not Track (DNT) that:
- works in diverse regulatory contexts, for instance to account for differences between the EU and US regulatory environments.
- is balanced, enabling users to express privacy preferences while meeting the needs of business, law enforcement, and site administration.
- benefits from the support of industry, since the solution will involve voluntary adoption by browsers, servers, and businesses.
This is no easy challenge. And yet, the group is advancing and is currently poised to make important decisions around the DNT specifications. In thinking about the importance of their progress, I recalled observations from Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda: “Privacy is not just about technical features. Without privacy, consumers will not trust the online world. And without trust, the digital economy cannot reach its full potential.”
The key value proposition of a successful DNT specification is this: it fosters trust on the Web. Trust begets innovation and commerce, and underlies our many other online social interactions. Predictability –in the form of a well-defined and simple signal– is good for business, consumers, and regulators. A global solution –which makes sense in the context of the Web– lowers the cost of doing business in different markets.
The Tracking Protection Working Group expects to publish a stable DNT standard in 2013. This week, the Tracking Protection Working Group will meet in Amsterdam to make progress on a number of key issues. With broad consensus, we will have a good chance of making DNT good for the whole Web.