For several years, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been working on “Do Not Track.” This is a program that allows netizens to remove themselves from digital tracking when they shop and browse the web. The problem has always been one of standardization. For the system to work, everyone has to be playing by the same rules and so far, it’s been a no go.
Advertisers want consumers to opt-out of tracking. Browser companies want to go DNT by default, forcing people to opt-in. And since there are no legal requirements, companies can choose to ignore the opt-out list and track folks anyway. Useless. And that’s why The Digital Advertising Alliance is calling it quits.
Lou Mastria, managing director of the DAA had this to say about the W3C project:
“If you measure it by progress, it’s dead. It has achieved nothing for privacy in two years.”
The DAA leaving is kind of like the construction boss leaving with all the ladders. You can still work but you’re not going to get a house build. This comes just a month after the co-chair left to work on national security issues with Obama. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is still hanging in there, but people in the know say that the meetings aren’t productive in the least.
Is anyone surprised? Did anyone think that marketers and privacy advocates could agree on what’s best for the consumer?
What Do Not Track needs is a big stick and now it may be up to Sen. John Rockefeller to wield it.
Earlier this year, the Senator called out Microsoft and Mozilla during the Do Not Track hearing in Congress.
“It is now April 2013, and consumers are still waiting for these Do Not Track standards. Advertisers are continuing to ignore Do Not Track headers and consumers’ requests for privacy. I am disturbed with the rhetoric from advertisers that suggests they might try to circumvent the sensible privacy protections that web browsers are providing consumers.”
Rockefeller has made it clear on numerous occasions that he’ll step in if W3C can’t come to an agreement. Looks like now might be the time.
Unfortunately for marketers, any plan that comes from the government is likely to lean heavily toward the privacy side of the argument, leaving marketers without a voice.
What do you think? Is government intervention something to worry about or are you confident it will all work out fine either way?