Menu
EFF-led group wants to give do-not-track some bite

EFF-led group wants to give do-not-track some bite

The initiative is the first credible attempt to define what "do not track" actually means, according to backer

For years now, checking the "do-not-track" option on your browser has been little more than wishful thinking on the part of users who care about privacy online. But now a group led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking to make that a more meaningful action.

The EFF and others have published a standard policy it hopes advertisers, analytics companies and publishers will adopt in order to respect the wishes of users who don't want to be tracked online. Getting the support needed to make a real difference will be an uphill battle, they acknowledge.

The policy document specifies what a website needs to do to honor the wishes of users whose browsers have DNT (do not track) turned on. DNT is an option in browsers and mobile operating systems (iOS and Firefox OS) that uses an HTTP header to tell websites that the users doesn't want to be tracked.

"This initiative is the first credible attempt to define "do not track" as a privacy mechanism that means what consumers reasonably believe it to mean," said Casey Oppenheim, CEO at privacy tool company Disconnect, which was involved in drafting the policy.

The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and others have done a great job defining DNT as a signaling mechanism, but there is still no consensus on defining what DNT actually means, according to Oppenheim. The advertising and data collection industries have essentially argued that "do not track" means "do not target," meaning tracking is fine, but the collected data can't be used to target ads, he said.

Advocacy group European Digital Rights (EDRi) gave the news from EFF a thumbs up. Because the W3C is still a long way from getting consensus on what DNT means, the development of such a policy outside the W3C is welcome, Walter van Holst, who sits on the board of Dutch EDRi member Vrijschrift, said in a statement provided by EDRi.

From EFF's and Disconnect's point of view, when users who have opted for DNT interact with a compliant website or domain, they should be treated as someone about whom nothing is known or remembered. However, the policy allows for some exceptions. Aggregated and anonymized records can be kept and used for modeling and usage statistics, according to EFF. Sites that obtain clear and informed consent before collecting data, remain DNT-compliant, it said.

The pitch is that this will be good for users as well as advertisers, analytics companies, and publishers. Along with tools like Disconnect, Privacy Badger, and AdBlock, the policy lets consumers protect themselves from invisible tracking on the Web, according to Oppenheim. And companies that support the standard show they respect their users' right to privacy and have more opportunities to interact with users who otherwise could block them altogether, he said.

Also backing the effort are publishing site Medium, analytics service Mixpanel, AdBlock, and privacy centric search engine DuckDuckGo. For example, Mixpanel will be rolling out a compliant analytics service that will make it simple for any publisher to collect analytics data in a manner consistent with the policy.

The challenge is get a critical mass of supporters onboard, and a lot more are needed to make a real difference.

"This standard has the potential to bridge the gap between privacy concerns and online advertising. We just need more partners to commit," Oppenheim said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags advertisingMixpanelsecurityadblockdisconnectinternetprivacyElectronic Frontier FoundationMedium

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments