Feeds

'Do Not Track' standard edges towards daylight

First draft of spybuster deal released by W3C

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Bitcasa bins $10-a-month Infinite storage offer
Firm cites 'low demand' plus 'abusers'
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Pssst. Want to buy a timeshare in the clouds?
The Google dilemma — controller or spreader of knowledge?
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.