Top Story: Looming Battle over Do Not Track


While privacy legislation has stalled, do not track has continued to be in debate due to recent actions of Microsoft and the World Wide Web Consortium (w3C).  Microsoft’s decision to set the latest Internet Explorer browser default setting to do not track (DNT), has led Yahoo! and advertisers to announce they will not honor such settings.  Google has belatedly entered the DNT Olympics by including a DNT option in its latest version of Chrome but like all other browsers except Microsoft it is an opt-in requirement to activate.

The W3C  has waded into the DNT debate and has a working group attempting to set Do Not Track standards.  As MediaPost’s Wendy Davis explains:

After spending months debating these issues, and unsuccessfully trying to forge a consensus, the group’s leadership threw up its hands and proclaimed that consensus won’t be the goal [going forward]. Instead the new goal, as per the organization’s latest agenda. . .  is to arrive at a conclusion that “raises the least number of objections.”

This has sparked an outcry from the Digital Advertising Alliance who contend that a non-consensus opinion of

an organization of unelected individuals who do not represent the interests of all stakeholders, should not be substituted for the consensus judgment of the participants given the impact such a decision could have on consumers, commerce, national and global economies, jobs, and the overall health of the Internet ecosystem.

Federal Trade Commission Chairman David Leibowitz indicated that the FTC is watching this issue closely and  if

by the end of the year or early next year, we haven’t seen a real Do Not Track option for consumers, I suspect the commission will go back and think about whether we want to endorse legislation.

Leibowitz also stated he was not persuaded by advertiser’s “sky is falling” argumenta.   Leibowitz, however, plans to step down at the end of the year so the decision on how to proceed on Do Not Track could be left to his successor who might be current Commissioner Julie Brill who has called for ad networks to justify their data collection practices.

More Info: Election Results Could Breathe New Life Into Do-Not-Track Agenda, Online Media Daily; W3C Says Consensus About Do-Not-Track Might Not Come Any Time Soon,Online Media Daily; Yahoo, Microsoft Tiff Highlights the Epic Failure of ‘Do Not Track’, WebMonkey; FTC gives groups time on Do Not Track, Politico