SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised the co-chairs of an Internet standards-setting working group for rejecting a proposal from the online advertising industry that would have allowed online services to continue profiling users even when a Do Not Track message was sent.
Consumer Watchdog said that legislation would ultimately be needed to ensure consumers’ online privacy.
“The proposal offered by industry trade groups and some online advertising companies would have allowed sites to continue to build user profiles and target ads. It was a sham and made a mockery of the Do Not Track concept,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project.
An Internet standards organization, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has been seeking to develop a Do Not Track standard for the past two years. Simpson is an “invited expert” taking part in the W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group’s deliberations. The working group has been trying to craft two standards. One would spell out the technical way that a Do Not Track message would be sent, while the other would detail the obligations of a website that received the message.
Co-chairs Peter Swire and Mathias Schunter wrote the decision rejecting the ad industry proposal which was offered by a coalition including DAA, 4As, AAF, ANA, DMA, IAB, NAI, AOL, Comcast, Group M, Yahoo!, and Alan Chapell.
Read the co-chairs decision and explantory memo here.
The working group has a deadline to complete most of its work by the end of July.
“I think it’s extremely difficult for the group to reach a meaningful standard to protect consumers by the end of the month,” said Simpson. “I expect the only way we’re going to get true protection for consumers when they go online is through legislation.”
Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a Do Not Track bill in the Senate and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) has a bill in the House.
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