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ParityPortal | October 21, 2017

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W3C rejects advertising industry do-not-track suggestions

W3C rejects advertising industry do-not-track suggestions
Ravi Mandalia

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has rejected the latest set of suggestions put forward by the advertising industry which, if accepted, would have led to inadvertent hijacking of a particular do-not-track specification that describes how websites should respond to such requests sent by browsers.

According to the W3C, Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) suggestions would have enabled advertisers continue their user profiling activities even for those users who have explicitly asked not to be tracked. The W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group, which is assigned with the task of standardizing technical mechanisms for server-side do-not-track compliances, revealed that it would have allowed online advertising companies to “retarget” ads to users such as ads relevant to one specific sites would have been displayed on all subsequent sites they visited.

Co-chairs of the work group, Peter Swire and Matthias Schunter, wrote that proposals put forward by DAA will be rejected. They added that if the proposed changes would have been adopted they would have led to “widespread confusion if consumers select a do-not-track option, only to have targeting and collection continue unchanged.”

Working group’s charter states that the do-not-track standard should have in place mechanisms for expressing user preferences around web tracking and should define blocking / allowing of web tracking elements. DAA’s proposal was inconsistent with this charter while also being confusing.

Swire and Schunter noted, “Based on the comments received, the current DAA Proposal is less protective of privacy and user choice than their earlier initiatives.” The Duo said that they will be rejecting DAA’s proposed changes.

Following this rejection the working group will continue developing the standard based on the text developed back in June and will start examining other proposed changes and try to close as many as possible in July itself.