INTERNET HEAVYWEIGHTS are discussing proposals for the Do Not Track mechanism that could give web users a degree of privacy.
Talks are underway at the European Commission (EC) and feature, amongst others, the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), Neelie Kroes, EC VP and Digital Agenda Commissioner, and the Open Rights Group. The short version is that the parties agree on the need for good and strong Do Not Track standards and enforcement rules.
The W3C has already produced two drafts that cover the topic. One is a set of standards that users could use to define where and what they want to be tracked, the other is the mechanism for enabling this.
"Do Not Track puts users in control, so they can choose the tradeoffs that are right for them. I congratulate the Working Group members on meeting this milestone, and I am delighted by the constructive discussions we have had as we work to reach consensus decisions," said Aleecia McDonald of the Mozilla Foundation and co-chair of the W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group as it published these in November last year.
Things might not moving fast enough however, and Kroes, who is a European Commission VP and head of the EC's Digital Agenda, called for more and quicker action.
Kroes, who posted to her blog on the subject last week, is pushing for the adoption of a standard that is actually usable and one that she can get behind. As soon as work is finished in this area web users will be able to enjoy more privacy, she explained.
"This is important because I am not pushing for any DNT standard, but for a standard that I could endorse, for a standard that is rich enough, in substance, to signal that users' right to online privacy is respected by companies who implement it," she wrote.
"This is not a simple task, in particular as the underlying legal privacy frameworks differ across jurisdictions, and I am happy to see that the W3C has assembled an impressive group of experts to get it done."
Speaking today she reiterated this, saying that work needs to be completed by June this year. A video of her talk has been reproduced on the European Union web site. "We need simple tools for people that do not want to be tracked online," she said, adding that it could become the standard way for dealing with privacy online. µ
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