W3C Working Group Rejects Advertiser's Do Not Track Proposal

The W3C working group has rejected the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) proposal for new language pertaining to Do Not Track compliance specifications for web browsers, saying that the latter is “at odds with our chartered aims and the weight of group consensus”. The W3C will continue to use the base text of the Compliance Specification that it developed in June.

The W3C’s and DAA’s base texts differed in four key areas: the definition of tracking; the definitions of collecting, retaining, using, and sharing data; the definition of de-identified data; and the limitations on the use of unique identifiers. The group found that in the first two cases, the DAA’s text was too narrow in its scope, and in the third, the DAA’s definition didn’t jibe enough with the W3C’s. As to the last issue, the DAA’s text would be too lenient in regard to what data could be culled.

Firefox Do Not Track
Mozilla is working on Do Not Track capabilities for Firefox

But the most salient point is this: “Under the June text, the Do Not Track mechanism would opt the user out of its broader definition of tracking. Under the DAA proposal, targeting of advertisements would not be affected by the Do Not Track standard; instead, users would use the separate DAA opt-out mechanism if they wished to limit targeted advertising.”

Basically, the DAA’s version of Do Not Track still tracks behavior and targets ads, which is contrary to the whole point of DNT.

The Do Not Track issue has been a hotly debated one, and consumers and web browser makers alike are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Just a year ago, it seemed as though the W3C was going to be sympathetic to advertisers on the issue. In fact, both Congress and the EU backed Microsoft in its attempt to build in a DNT setting by default into its Internet Explorer 10 browser. (Both Chrome and Firefox have Do Not Track functionality in the offing, too.)

The W3C is planning to close the June draft to changes soon; there’s a Last Call deadline looming at the end of the month.