Is Do Not Track dead on arrival?

Privacy wonks and advertisers are struggling to come up with a way for consumers to say 'Don't track me, bro'. Here's what DNT may look like when the dust finally settles.

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In other words, if you don’t play by our rules you can’t be in our club. Of course, once outside the club, there are no rules to play by. And the vast majority of tracking companies (albeit smaller ones) belong to neither the DAA nor the NAI in any case.

If enforcement is left in the hands of the industry, then this whole process has just been a waste of time. This is why I think we will ultimately end up with a Do Not Track law of some kind.

4. The song remains the same

So has this whole process been a waste of time? I asked Stanford privacy researcher Jonathan Mayer, who has been in the thick of these proceedings. He wrote:

“The group remains deeply divided on the data that websites can collect, retain, and use despite a consumer's Do Not Track signal.  In particular, we are no closer to agreement on whether a website can continue to compile a user's browsing history.  We also have not reconciled sharp differences about browser user interface, both in what is required of browsers and whether websites can ignore facially valid "DNT: 1" headers.”

I also asked Scott Meyer, CEO of Evidon, an organization that manages the AdChoices transparency program for the DAA. He wrote:

"In February 2012… The FTC, Department of Commerce and the Administration all endorsed an approach to Do Not Track, with the default signal being set to off [DNT: 0]….  That agreement obviated any need for the complex and frustrating negotiations that have now reached their end.  When Microsoft changed their stance to set Do Not Track to on by default, that started an impossible task for the W3C of defining what tracking should be subject to the default blocking.  I do think there is an agreement that everyone can embrace - it's the one we embraced in February 2012."

In other words, both sides seem to be just as far apart as they were when they started. The final word goes to privacy researcher Ashkan Soltani, who has been watching the proceedings from afar.

“I'm pretty sure they'll get to a compromise that nobody will be happy with and won't do much for consumers but that politically they can call 'a win'” he says. “All of this has happened before, all of this will happen again.”

It’s enough to drive a man to drink. Where’s Lindsay? I need that key.

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