Wednesday, July 25, 2012

W3C Releases New Web Privacy Standard By Scott Gilbertson part 2

Mozilla's basic overview of how the DNT header might work
Earlier this year Mozilla turned its DNT efforts over to the W3C where the Tracking Protection Working Group was formed . The working group thus far includes everyone from the major browser vendors to large websites like Google and Facebook. Consumer advocacy groups like Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and even the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are also participating.This first draft of the new privacy standard is the groups’ first public release.
The new spec goes quite a bit further than Mozilla’s original definition of DNT, including sections to define how the header is transmitted, what URI servers should use to respond and how websites are to comply with the preference . Obviously, because this is just the first draft there are still many gaps in the spec.
The new privacy spec is only a first draft, but that’s not the main problem currently stopping DNT from becoming areal-world way to protect your privacy. The real problem is the advertisers. While many are already on board with the new DNT standard , so far few actually obey it. Skeptics often argue that the DNT header won’t truly protect your privacy because there’s no way to force advertising sites to obey it. That is true, and there will no doubt always be some bad apples on the web, but the advertising industry has a surprisingly good track record of self-regulation. Much of that record no doubt stems from fear that, without some degree of self-regulation, governments will step in to impose their own regulation on behalf of consumers.
The W3C’s new privacy standard effort is a long way from finished, and, becauseit relies on the voluntary participation ofadvertisers, it will likely never completely protect your privacy. Still, it’s a stronger means of opting out than cookies. Moreover, the existence of an official DNT standard blessed by the W3C just might convince more advertisers to support the initiative.

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