Major ad group pulls out of 'Do Not Track' talks


The Digital Advertising Alliance has pulled out of an international working group looking to determine a global online privacy standard, as the ‘Do Not Track’ cookie monitoring debate rumbles on.


The DAA is an industry group representing the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Direct Marketing Association, and others.

The group cited a ‘lack of progress’ in more than two years of negotiations as its reason for leaving.

The DAA put forth a set of proposed rules in July that was roundly rejected by browsers and privacy advocates.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Tracking Protection Working Group was created in 2011. Its goal was to come up with an industrywide “Do Not Track” standard, similar to the “Do Not Call” list for phone numbers.

While the DAA itself has worked since then to give consumers privacy options, including a browser plug-in it released, the working group has struggled to agree on a policy.

External issues, such as Microsoft’s decision to enable ‘Do Not Track’ as default on its Internet Explorer 10 browser have further complicated issues.

‘Universal default setting’

"Do Not Track" is the signal a Web browser sends to a website asking the site not to track a user's visit. The Tracking Protection Working Group was created in hopes of creating universal rules for handling these signals.

One of the major issues the working group has failed to resolve is whether Web browsers should be set up to automatically send "Do Not Track" signals to every site a user visits, or whether users should first have to select a "Do Not Track" option from within the browser's setting.
Advertisers and publishers hoping to collect data to serve targeted advertisements would prefer the default option to allow them to track users' visits.

‘No workable siolution’

The departure of the DAA from the talks was announced by managing director, Lou Mastria, in an email.

"After more than two years of good-faith effort and having contributed significant resources, the DAA no longer believes that the TPWG (Tracking Protection Working Group) is capable of fostering the development of a workable 'do not track' solution," Mastria wrote.

The DAA’s departure comes two months after privacy advocate and Stanford University graduate student Jonathan Mayer resigned from the working group; at the time, he raised concerns about the lack of progress made over two years. “Given the lack of a viable path to consensus, I can no longer justify the substantial time, travel, and effort associated with continuing in the Working Group,” he wrote at the time.

The DAA says it will convene its own forum to address consumer privacy issues and continue working on its AdChoices service, which allows users to opt out of targeted ads on certain websites.

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