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Mar-12-2013 15:07printcomments

Consumer and Privacy Organizations Issue Statement on Do-Not-Track Mechanisms

Privacy and consumer organizations issued a statement on DNT.

Do Not Track

(SAN FRANCISCO) - The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) "seeks to support the wide adoption of Web technologies in digital publishing contexts. . . to reinforce cooperation around well defined technical issues."  In this regard, the W3C conducts workshops around a number of technical issues.  A workshop will be held in Berlin on March 11 and 12 to discuss how Do-­Not-­Track (DNT) mechanisms should work.

In advance of this workshop, on March 11, 2013 a number of privacy and consumer organizations issued the following statement on DNT.

CONSUMERS AND INDUSTRY WIN WITH DO-­‐NOT-­‐TRACK
March 11, 2013

We are some of the nation’s most active and respected consumer and privacy organizations. We advocate for a simple Do-­‐Not-­‐Track (DNT) mechanism that allows individuals to decide when, whether, and how they will be tracked online, no matter what kind of technology or device they use.

We strongly support the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) ongoing efforts to develop standards for how DNT should work. We call on the participants to agree to a standard based on respect for individuals’ fundamental privacy rights.

We applaud companies, like Microsoft and Mozilla, that have recently taken steps to meet the public demand for DNT. Microsoft has taken the boldest action so far by designating DNT “on” by default in Internet Explorer 10. However, at present DNT is neither a law nor a standard. So despite this good work, it's up to those doing the tracking to decide whether or how they will honor consumer preferences.

Some trackers say that they will outright ignore DNT preferences expressed by consumers using browsers that provide DNT “on” by default, such as IE 10, because they say this expresses the browser maker’s choice, not the consumer’s choice. In other words, even if consumers want DNT “on”—and find it convenient that it’s already turned “on”—these trackers will blatantly and willfully ignore it. This stance threatens the promise of DNT as a way to balance our right to privacy with commercial interests.

Consumers, businesses, and others make the Internet a useful and welcome place to talk, to share, to learn, and to engage in commerce. When consumers object to online tracking, those objections must be respected. It’s good for consumers and it’s good for business.

Signed,

American Civil Liberties Union
Bob Gellman, Privacy Consultant
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Electronic Frontier Foundation
National Consumers League
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

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Salem-News.com writer Ralph E. Stone was born in Massachusetts. He is a graduate of both Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School. We are very fortunate to have this writer's talents in this troubling world; Ralph has an eye for detail that others miss. As is the case with many Salem-News.com writers, Ralph is an American Veteran who served in war. Ralph served his nation after college as a U.S. Army officer during the Vietnam war. After Vietnam, he went on to have a career with the Federal Trade Commission as an Attorney specializing in Consumer and Antitrust Law. Over the years, Ralph has traveled extensively with his wife Judi, taking in data from all over the world, which today adds to his collective knowledge about extremely important subjects like the economy and taxation. You can send Ralph an email at this address stonere@earthlink.net

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