New Do Not Track Group Makes Progress in San Francisco

Spurred by the failure of the Worldwide Web Consortium’s Tracking Protection Working Group to establish a do-not-track standard, 20-odd stakeholders in online privacy met in San Francisco yesterday and agreed to formulate a working policy by early 2014. The meeting was spearheaded by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which quit theW3C group last month.

“We agreed to an approach with an assumption of using the DAA definitions. We don’t have to start from the beginning,” said DAA counsel Stuart Ingis, a partner in the Venable law firm, which hosted the parley at the San Francisco office it opened this week to be closer to the tech community. “The sense I got from the people that had gone through this with the W3C was that, for the first time, we felt like a direction was clear and we didn’t see major differences in concepts of where we wanted to go.”

Calling themselves the DNT Subcommittee of the DAA, the group included marketers, consumer activists, academics, and at least two representatives of major browsers, Ingis said. They agreed to do further development in two areas before settling on a final policy: improving on the DAA definitions of consumer research and product development, and refining parameters of de-identification so that sources of online data cannot be found through reverse engineering.

Ingis said that the group set an agenda to meet again in the coming months and that an announcement of a formal DNT policy could be forthcoming by January.

“We’re just focusing on the browsers,” Ingis remarked. “We’re not trying to solve the whole world here.”

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