Do Not Track: The Regulators’ Challenge.

The fine people at the UC Berkeley law school have pulled together an amazing

two-day workshop about Web Tracking in Brussels. The conversation kicked off today with European Commissioner Neelie Kroes talking

about privacy, self-regulation and do not track, and with Director General Robert Madelin and FTC Commissioner Julie Brill on the subsequent panel. Together, the three handed a sizable challenge to the Web standards community: Standardize Do Not Track within a year (or less), be transparent, be inclusive.

Neelie Kroes‘ key points: While the advertising industry’s self-regulatory efforts are important and welcome, they aren’t enough. Tracking protection cannot be limited to just cookies (and cannot ignore other ways to create client state); it cannot be limited to just advertising or other specific sectors; and it cannot be limited to just the use of the data; instead, tracking protection needs to apply to data collection as well. Also, industry needs to address both Web and mobile tracking, and soon. Kroes’

challenge to industry: Standardize Do Not Track by June 2012. Come to the standards table.

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill spoke about the FTC’s efforts in the space over the last several years. She reminded us of the FTC’s staff

paper and the five

principles for an effective Do Not Track technology: 1. It must be easy to use (in fact, asked Brill, wouldn’t it be nice if the advertising industry was making opt-outs as easy to use as ads); 2. It must be effective; 3. It must be universal; 4. It must deal with collection as well as with use of information; 5. It must be persistent (and not go away after 5 days, or when you delete your cookies). As a significant footnote, Brill pointed out the special sensitivity of geolocation information, and the need for minimization there.

On standardization, Brill’s worry is that industry standardization might be too slow a process, and could possibly take beyond mid 2012.

Finally, Robert Madelin (Director General for the European Commission DG Information Society and Media) put the tracking conversation into the context of Internet regulation overall (“it can’t be a random walk between individual jurisdictions”) and the eG8, and into broader thinking about effective self-regulatory approaches. The sweet spot, according to Madelin, is somewhere in the middle between strongly mandated co-regulation and purely industry-led self-regulation: industry-led, yes – but inclusive, with a clear process, and with clear accountability and transparency to the public, and with a preference for shipping over the sort of perfection that can hold up agreement forever.

Nick Doty blogged about our plans with Do Not Track earlier today. We believe that the standards process provides an appropriate framework for conversations about not just the bits on the wire, but also the broader meaning of do not track.

4 thoughts on “Do Not Track: The Regulators’ Challenge.

  1. I’m divided. On one hand, ads keep things free, and on the other, ads make me want to throw an exploding battle axe into my machine.

  2. In my opinion, I agree that ads finance partly the internet, but let us not forget that only an ad that addresses a need is an ad with a good conversion. All other ads are unnecessary. In my opinion, even with today’s tracking, the ads are more often irrelevant than not. It would be better when a consumer can control what ads are offered from his own protected datastore than that 3rd parties determine based on their knowledge what ads a consumer can be offered.

    In the Netherlands we are originate, as well as Ms. Kroes, there are stickers on the mail box indicating what you want and you can register that you want or do not want to be targeted for tele marketing.

    In my opinion, it is better that consumers indicate to suppliers their needs instead of suppliers trying in legal and more fuzzy ways to guess what a person wants.

  3. I feel Honest companies such as my own are going to be the ones hurt we use analytics only to give the customer something that they prefer in fact most analytics tools are used to tell a company what people like about their site and what they don’t we then make changes to our website based on what the majority of people using our site preferred. I do not collect names and would never sell them give them away or do anything that would betray my customers trust. There is no reason for analytics unless you care about pleasing your customers. I understand there are some individuals and companies that are abusing this software. I wish that in this economically punished time we manufacturers that provide jobs in the United States would not know we are going to lose all the business we have spent so much money on earning because we have no idea whether or not customer John Doe likes the landing page when he types in one of our key words he may leave as he did prior to the blessing of Seo and Web analytics. Fact is SEO is making it easier for somebody who wants to get whatever it is they want to buy to them when they look for it using the search engine. I think I am of the majority I also believe that the idea of comparing tracking our website that was purchased not by you but by the person or company who has put that site you wanted to go to their does have a right to use web analytics in a respectful and courteous manner to all who wish to enter their site that they paid for and is a link that would not be there in less that website owner had spent a very large amount of money to create it. Is nothing at all like it do not call list. A do not call list is somebody calling the telephone that you paid for without you asking them to an most likely bothering you. I know if used properly do not bother people I know if you come on my website you chose to do that which I’m NOT saying allows me to do anything that would jeopardize your privacy. However you are using something that did not grow out of the ground somebody paid for it that person is the owner of the site that you chose to go on to cold calling is outbound same thing as trying to improve the service for customers and our company.
    I want to state one thing clearly again I do not agree that anyone has the right to sell your information because you went on a website or use your information in any fashion that would be deemed not to the liking of someone who actually could see that their data is something we spend a good amount of money to protect and we do not record it or jeopardize in any way. I think ad companies might be the ones you people should be focusing on not people that are working hard and would only lose customers by being the malicious or careless and somehow trying to put that information in the wrong hands. I hope you all understand where I’m coming from I wish you all the best please know most of us are doing the right thing it’s our best interest to please do not lump us in with the bad guys it will cost this country a lot of money when analytics his band for legitimate companies.
    Thank you very much for taking the time to read what I have written

Comments are closed.