W3C Announces Work on 'Do Not Track' Standard
This year, almost every browser implemented a "do not track"  feature, prompted by privacy-conscious consumers and the Do Not Track listproposed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Now the concept is gaining evenmore support. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has announced a standardization effort for user web privacy.

A Little Privacy, Please

Increasing parts of our daily lives transpire inside of abrowser;the data left behind by those interactions are able to paint ever-more-accurate digital pictures of who we are, what we like, what we do andwhom welike. Not surprisingly, many people don’t want all of thosedetails floatingaround.

The W3C wants to give users more control over exactly what information they share. The new Tracking Protection Working Group, whichispart of the larger W3C privacy activity, is tasked with creating a standard that allows users to definepreferences forweb tracking, which parties can track them online andblocking or allowing webtracking elements. In addition, the workinggroup may also specify a process tomonitor implementation andconformance to the Do Not Track standard.

The working group hopes to build a broad consensus for theDo NotTrack standard among browser vendors, content providers, online advertisers, search engines and industry privacy and consumer protection experts; consensus is important because it’s the only way thestandard will gain widespread adoption. The team is starting in agoodposition. In April, a Web Tracking and User Privacy workshop washeld by theW3C and sponsored by industry leaders:

Learning Opportunities

  • Adobe
  • Yahoo!
  • Google
  • Mozilla
  • Microsoft

Those groups will likely continue to have input indevelopment ofthe standard. In fact, one of the chairs for the group is fromMozilla.The Tracking and Protection Working Group will work closely with other W3C groups such as the Privacy Interest Group, InternationalizationActivityGroup and Device APIs and Policy Working Group.

What’s Next for the Working Group

The first meeting for the newly created group will occur via telephone on September 14 and be followed by a two-day face-to-face meeting on September 21. According to the charter for the group, the Do NotTrack standardis scheduled for publication to recommend status in June2012, which is light-speed for a standards organization.