This is the summary of an article by Lee Tien. It talks about the struggle between two parties, users and companies, to strike a balance between privacy and protection from the former and providing ads and security threats protection from the latter. Here’s the link to the original behavioral targeting article: Do Not Track Update: From Congressional Hearings to Uproar Over Microsoft’s “Default” Settings, the Fight for User Privacy Continues.
In recent months, the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF, along with other privacy advocates, continue with the fight for Do Not Track, a policy that enables Internet users to avoid being tracked by the websites that they visit online. At present, discussions about the policy are being done in Congress, while EFF, Mozilla, and Stanford have made a proposal about it.
Discussions in Congress
In Congress, experts talked about how privacy protection can be better implemented in the technology industry. James Grimmelmann, a professor from the New York Law School, cited three basic principles that are essential toward having authentic consumer choice: innovation for privacy, or the development of technologies pertaining to consumer protection; reliability, or the assurance that a consumer’s choice will be honoured; and usability, or the ease with which a user can utilize a privacy option.
Meanwhile, Peter Swire, a professor from Ohio State University, expressed critical opinion about the self-regulation of the online behavioral advertising industry, citing that exceptions to the rule make it hard to clarify exactly what limitations are being imposed.
The W3C & Do Not Track
Another group that has been working hard on the Do Not Track is the World Wide Web Consortium or W3C. Simply put, the W3C consists of academics, experts, industry groups, advocacy groups such as the EFF, and other stakeholders who are concerned about making standards for the World Wide Web. Notably, they have a Tracking Protection Working Group or TPWG, which focuses specifically on online privacy concerns.
A Compromise Proposal
Meanwhile, another group that has been tackling the Do Not Track issue is composed of EFF, Mozilla, and Stanford. Specifically, they have made a compromise proposal that basically limits a company’s ability to gather protocol data for a particular length of time. However, the proposal would also allow these same companies to gather certain data for the purposes of security. Notably, Jonathan Mayer from Stanford has been looking into how this could be implemented. He has made a video presentation about it; as well as analyses about the measurement of advertising, frequency capping, and how targeting is done without tracking.
In a nutshell, EFF, Mozilla, and Standard are suggesting a compromise proposal. On one hand, there are the users who demand privacy and protection. On the other hand, there are companies that seek to provide ads and protect against threats to security. The key lies in striking a balance between the two extremes. Thus, they have devised a compromise proposal that limits the gathering of information by third parties, but at the same time does not hinder newer forms of advertising techniques and does not impose on advertisers the kind of advertisements that they can feature on the Web.