By Katie W.
Sept. 19 --The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) group that
is working on developing a Do Not Track (DNT) Web browser privacy standard is
moving forward despite the departure of the Digital Advertising Alliance
The W3C said in a Sept. 18 statement that it had appointed two new
co-chairs to the Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG): Justin Brookman,
director for the Project on Consumer Privacy at the Center for Democracy &
Technology, and Carl Cargill, standards principal at Adobe Systems Inc.
DAA Managing Director Lou Mastria said in a Sept. 17 letter to W3C Chief Executive Officer Jeff Jaffe that the
DAA had decided to withdraw from future participation in the Working Group.
“After more than two years of good-faith effort and having contributed
significant resources, the DAA no longer believes that the TPWG is capable of
fostering the development of a workable 'do not track' ('dnt') solution,”
The new co-chairs told Bloomberg
BNA that the Working Group faces some important challenges. “Keeping people
talking and moving forward on defining a standard that is acceptable to the
stakeholder groups is the goal,” Cargill told Bloomberg BNA in a Sept. 19
“It's key to remember that a standard is not ever completed;
it is constantly being revised to mirror changes that are taking place in the
market,” Cargill added. “Part of the job of the Chairs is to decide when to do a
'snapshot' and freeze a specification for implementation and deployment, and
what to include in the next revision depending on market and user needs.”
“The biggest problem is that there is just a fundamental disconnect between
some of the stakeholders on a few key issues,” Brookman told Bloomberg BNA Sept.
19. “We're not going to have a solution that pleases everyone on every single
“If W3C decides to move forward, we're going to do so under a
streamlined procedure where the Chairs aggressively push to close out remaining
issues and, where necessary, determine the path forward where we can't get
people to all agree,” Brookman added. “That will be difficult, but we'll try to
do a good job to pick the most rational path.”
Matthias Schunter, chief
technologist and principal investigator at Intel Corp., will continue in his
role as the third co-chair of the Working Group, Jaffe said during a Sept. 18
Working Group teleconference.
Peter Swire, the Nancy J. and Lawrence P. Huang professor in law and ethics
at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Ernest Scheller Jr. College of
Business, announced Aug. 27 that he was leaving his position as
co-chair of the Working Group. The same day, the White House named Swire a
member of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology,
created in response to public outrage over controversial National Security
Agency surveillance programs .
In July, Jonathan
Mayer, a fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, resigned from
the continuing effort because of the group's failure to meet the July deadline
for a “last call” draft standard . “Last call” within the W3C means that the
working group believes the technical requirements of the project have been met,
and it is time for the public to take a look and comment.
“As we depart W3C and TPWG, DAA will focus its resources on
convening its own forum to evaluate how browser-based signals can be used to
meaningfully address consumer privacy,” Mastria said.
He said the Working
Group “has yet to reach agreement on the most elementary and material issues
facing the group,” such as defining the term “tracking.”
Group's “efforts were rejected out of hand by TPWG co-chair Peter Swire, who
jettisoned the long-accepted W3C procedure in order to anoint his own path
forward,” Mastria said. “As others in the working group have substantiated, as a
result of Swire's actions there is no longer a legitimate TPWG procedure.”
In a Sept. 17 response, Swire said that the DAA “chose my actions as
the most convenient excuse for leaving the process.”
“I share the
frustration in the DAA message with the inability of the Working Group to
achieve better results,” Swire said. “I believe a fair review of the history,
however, shows that the views of the DAA and its members were valued and
included in months of hard work together in the Group.”
He added that his
“own view is that the Working Group does not have a path to consensus that
includes large blocs of stakeholders with views as divergent as the DAA, on the
one hand, and those seeking stricter privacy rules, on the other.”
In a Sept. 19 statement, Cargill told
Bloomberg BNA that “the DAA will be missed, but many of their members and sister
organizations remain in the working group representing the industry's point of
The DAA's “member trade associations and companies are staying, so
it won't affect the day-to-day workings of the group,” Brookman told Bloomberg
BNA. “I think DAA (and its members) wanted to signal frustration with the
process while still staying involved on substance.”
The Direct Marketing
Association (DMA), which is on the DAA's board, “fully supports” the DAA's
decision to withdraw from participation in the Working Group, Rachel Nyswander
Thomas, executive director of the DMA's Data-Driven Marketing Institute and vice
president of government affairs at the DMA, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 19. Thomas
is the DMA's representative on the Working Group.
Thomas said the DMA
will continue to participate in the Working Group, in part to ensure that it
does not produce standards detrimental to DMA members. The DMA, however, does
not see the Working Group's path forward as “anything more than an academic
exercise,” she said.
But, Thomas added, “Nobody is giving up on figuring
out the right solution for consumer choice.” She cited the DAA's new forum as a
possible place for developing a viable DNT solution.
In addition to the appointment of the two new co-chairs,
the W3C said Sept. 18 it had recently updated two draft DNT specifications, the
“Tracking Preference Expression” and “Tracking Compliance and Scope” specifications.
Tracking Preference Expression specification “defines the technical mechanisms
for expressing a tracking preference” and “defines mechanisms for sites to
signal whether and how they honor this preference,” the W3C said in a Sept. 13
statement. The Tracking Compliance and Scope specification “defines the meaning
of a Do Not Track (DNT) preference and sets out practices for websites to comply
with this preference,” the W3C said.
In addition, Schunter announced his
for reaching “last call,” the W3C said Sept. 18. He said the W3C is “focused on
the appropriate DNT solution for release in 2013-14 which we call DNT 1.0” and
added that there will likely be “further releases that address scenarios that
are not well addressed today.”
To contact the reporter on
this story: Katie W. Johnson in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor
responsible for this story: Barbara Yuill at email@example.com.
The minutes from the
Sept. 18 W3C teleconference are available at http://www.w3.org/2013/09/18-dnt-minutes.
Aug. 27 resignation announcement is available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-tracking/2013Aug/0024.html.
Mastria's Sept. 17 e-mail is available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-tracking/2013Sep/0061.html.
Swire's Sept. 17 response is available at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-tracking/2013Sep/0065.html.
The Sept. 12 draft “Tracking Preference Expression” specification is
available at http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-tracking-dnt-20130912/.
The Sept. 12 draft “Tracking Compliance and Scope” specification is available
The “Chair's Plan to Get to Last Call” is available at http://www.w3.org/2011/tracking-protection/1309-plan.html.