'Do Not Track' standard edges towards daylight
First draft of spybuster deal released by W3C
An internet standard on online privacy is expected to be published by the middle of next year. In the meantime, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released a first draft of the so-called "Do Not Track" (DNT) mechanism, with input from the major browser makers.
Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft have been debating with privacy groups and government regulators over what standard should be adopted.
But getting companies to find a consensus on what mechanism should be introduced that allows browser makers, social networks and other online outfits to profit from advertising while satisfying privacy watchdogs has proved, to say the least, problematic.
Add to that the fact that the three biggest browser players on the market today - Mozilla, Microsoft and Google - have all offered their own take on Do Not Track.
As The Register has reported previously, Mozilla added a DNT http header to Firefox, thereby giving surfers control of whether or not they want to be tracked by advertisers online.
Google, meanwhile, released a Chrome extension that lets a user opt-out of tracking cookies from multiple ad networks, including the web's top 15.
Then there's Microsoft's approach. It brought out a method dubbed Tracking Protection Lists, that relies on predefined lists of domains known to track a web surfer's behavior via advertising technologies.
Such lists are maintained by various third-party companies, and the user is free to choose from among them.
That method was already submitted to the W3C by Redmond in late 2010, following the release of its browser Internet Explorer 9. In February, the software vendor then rather sneakily added a submission of Mozilla's Do Not Track browser header to its Tracking Protection proposal to the W3C.
In September, the standards-setting group confirmed that Microsoft and Mozilla's proposals would provide the basis for the group's work.
Now, a first draft compliance specification has been published, which was edited by Google policy wonk Heather West, fellow Googler Sean Harvey and two members of the Center of Democracy and Technology.
Clearly, at this stage all the obvious parties are mucking in. But it's early days, and ultimately the browser industry is moving towards self-regulation that appeases privacy watchdogs and keeps ad revenues ticking over. The likely outcome, therefore, is that netizens will need to pro-actively switch the Do Not Track button on. ®
You come on to my internet, which I am paying for, then you abide by my rules. Which means if I choose to use flashblock and adblock then you can either like it or lump it. If you don't like it you can go set up your own internet.
By way of analogy, how would you feel if I came to your house and statrted telling you how your funiture should be arranged and how your home entertainment system should be set up? You'd rightly tell me to fuck off in short order.
I refuse on principle to let the internet be stolen off those of us who have been paying for it since before commercial parasites tried to claim it as their own. The internet was a much better place before the spivs and whores gatecrashed it.
Just to be crystal clear, I do not care if you threaten to leave the internet, go now please, and shut the door behind you. We know of course that you won't, in which case you'll just have to abide by what the internets users and owners, who pay for it, want.
It won't work
So, you either have to:
1) Make the protection really prevent tracking but ship with all the protection off - most people will not activate it, most web sites will break if you do activate it, and it won't be any different than running NoScript and CookieMonster.
2) Ship with it enabled but make it just an advisory flag, and trust the web masters to honor it - you will be tracked, just as you are now, because there is too much money in tracking (or so the perception is).
3) Ship with it enabled, make it prevent tracking, and break most web sites - again, like NoScript and CookieMonster, but with lots of angry users and angry web masters. Won't happen.
@ Steven Roper
Typically overweening sense of entitlement from someone who labours under the misapprehension they own everything.
In the vanishngly unlikely event I'd be on your site how are you going to stop me? You need the internet infinitely more than it needs you.
You have no choice but to suck it up, now get over yourself.