White House privacy rights bill is a beginning, not an end

Free at last? Not exactly. A consumer privacy bill of rights is long overdue, but anything real will require Congressional action -- an oxymoron if ever there was one.

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The European Union in particular has much stricter privacy rules than we do on this side of the pond. It’s unlikely US companies will agree to follow their rules; how likely are they to follow ours?

* What is tracking, really, and who gets to define it? In the phone conference, White House Deputy CTO Daniel Weitzner said any Do Not Track mechanism would carve out narrow exceptions for ad delivery reporting and fraud detection, as well as things like the Facebook “Like” button. At what point does allowing Facebook and Google to collect our Likes or +1s become a form of tracking?

The DAA’s commitment to honor on Do Not Track seeks to carve out its own exceptions. Its rules only apply when a consumer 

(1) has been provided language that describes to consumers the effect of exercising such choice including that some data may still be collected and (2) has affirmatively chosen to exercise a uniform choice with the browser based tool. The DAA standard will not apply in instances where (1) and (2) do not occur or where any entity or software or technology provider other than the user exercises such a choice.

To me this sounds like they’re making an exception for browsers like Safari, which blocks tracking cookies by default, and possibly tools like Abine’s Do Not Track Plus, which blocks tracking without notice from individual ad companies.

Carving out the exceptions could be the thing that stops Do Not Track in its tracks, so to speak.

Don’t get me wrong. We have needed a consumer privacy bill of rights for some time now, and I believe that industry self regulation alone is worthless. So these are steps in the right direction. But only baby steps. The real work is just getting started.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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