by Omar N.
This article is about the W3C’s first draft release for two standards aimed to protect online privacy by giving users the ability to opt in or out of online tracking. These standards are meant to “prevent surprises, to foster trust on the web” and also “to find a balance between the privacy of web users and the information collection requirements of websites”, as said in the article. The first specification describes the technical standard for using a DNT header (do no track header) in an HTTP request. When a user makes the web request, websites will be able to check to see if a DNT header exists and not track the user according to their preference. The second specification describes the definitions for a “Do Not Track” preference and sets the rules for websites to comply with the standards.
The article mentions that a completed standard by the W3C is expected by mid-2012 and that they are looking to the government to back them on the new rules. A White House spokesperson says they are working with the Obama administration on pushing for a standard that can be enforced by the FTC. It is also mentioned that should Congress deny the new bill, work will continue on by using the private sector instead to complete the project.
I’m definitely in the “Do No Track” camp, but I’m glad that the W3C is trying to find a balance between the user’s privacy and the website’s needs for tracking. Completely blocking all tracking would be bad because it is still a significant tool for understanding consumer behavior. However, right now websites have too much information about people and there is a great need for regulation.
It is essential for web developers to stay on top of this type of news because it will influence how we design our websites in the future. This will be especially important if the government gets involved because violating user’s privacy can lead to legal action taken against the website owners.
Gross, G. (2011, November 15). W3C Drafts Web Standards to Protect Online Privacy. TechWorld. Retrieved from http://news.techworld.com/security/3318471/w3c-drafts-web-standards-to-protect-online-privacy/