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06 November 2012, 10:19

FTC to apply pressure on Do Not Track

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Open Network icon The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC ) is planning on increasing the pressure of the participants in the W3C standardisation process for the Do Not Track (DNT) header. "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" said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz talking to Politico.

The FTC says that it supports the principles of consumer privacy, intervening where it thinks companies are stepping outside those principles and promoting transparency and choice. This includes the FTC's work with internet stakeholders to offer consumers a choice about where their data goes, though the FTC chairman calls it a "two steps forward, one step back" process. Leibowitz wants a self-regulatory approach and considers the W3C part of that approach. He calls third-party advertising networks who claim the opt-out provided by Do Not Track will damage their business "delusional" and that saying "'The sky is going to fall if you allow a modest opt-out' is just not credible".

Within the W3C's working group for Do Not Track, browser vendors, advertisers and consumer advocates are trying to standardise a mechanism that lets users simply request that web sites and advertisers do not track their movements on the internet. But the process has hit a number of disagreements over "permitted uses", whether browser makers turning on DNT by default is allowable and others saying that they would ignore such settings. EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes has expressed concern over these delays and is hoping for a quick resolution from the W3C working group which will be compatible with EU legislation.


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