Do Not Track Hits Roadblocks

Casey BartoSince Microsoft announced its controversial Do Not Track feature would be turned on by default in the latest version of IE 10, there’s been much debate over whether the new feature would be compliant with the Do Not Track specifications, and its effect on the future of the internet/online advertising and marketing.
Fast forward a few months to today and it seems that the industry has taken a few steps back. As is the case with most governmental plans/proposals, the DNT plan has hit a few road blocks. According to ZDNet, one of the representatives to the W3C working group (The W3C is tasked with creating a final DNT compliance document for online advertisers to follow), proposed that marketing should be added to the Tracking and Compliance section of the DNT standard, saying:

“Marketing fuels the world. It is as American as apple pie and delivers relevant advertising to consumers about products they will be interested at a time they are interested. DNT should permit it as one of the most important values of civil society…”

“…Marketing as a permitted use would allow the use of the data to send relevant offers to consumers through specific devices they have used. The data could not be used for other purposes, such as eligibility for employment, insurance, etc. Thus, we move to a harm consideration. Ads and offers are just offers – users/consumers can simply not respond to those offers – there is no associated harm.”

This prompted other W3C members to chime in, saying they were confused about what exactly would be permitted and what the term “marketing” really meant.

Meanwhile, the DAA, the industry’s self regulating body, announced it will not sanction or penalize companies that ignore IE 10’s (or any other browser’s) default DNT setting.

“Machine-driven Do Not Track does not represent user choice; it represents browser-manufacturer choice,” the DAA said in a statement. “Allowing browser manufacturers to determine the kinds of information users receive could negatively impact the vast consumer benefits and Internet experiences delivered by DAA participants and millions of other websites that consumers value.”

On the consumer side of things, a survey conducted by the UC Berkley School of Law revealed, 60% of consumers felt that the DNT initiative should prevent websites their information. Interestingly, the survey found that when asked about the current rules of online tracking, most consumers had a limited or incorrect understanding.

How do you think these new developments will affect the DNT initiative?

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