FTC Will Intervene If Do Not Track Discussions Don't Reach a Conclusion This Year

Do Not Track discussions have reached an impasse because of Microsoft

By on November 6th, 2012 13:21 GMT

Do Not Track is not in a very good position right now and you have Microsoft to thank for that. The standard was and still is a good option for advertisers to police themselves and for users to get real privacy options on terms everyone can agree on.

Government regulators have been keeping an eye on developments, on both sides of the Atlantic, ready to step in if things go wrong.

Europe has already said that if the Do Not Track standard doesn't come through as intended, it will take matters into its own hands.

The "cookie law" is already in effect there and sites are required to notify their users that they rely on browser cookies to store information and track usage.

Now, the FTC says it's watching the progress as well, but will only intervene if things go off rails. FTC boss Jon Leibowitz says the agency isn't getting involved with the particular details of Do Not Track.

He's referring to Microsoft's decision to enable DNT by default, even as the standard calls for users to make the choice.

Advertisers have already said they won't be respecting the DNT header coming from Microsoft's browsers because of this and other browser makers have criticized Microsoft for endangering the discussion and not respecting the draft standard. Even Yahoo has criticized Microsoft's move and has said it won't respect it.

The FTC doesn't have an opinion on this, it would rather have the industry regulate itself and believes the W3C draft specs for Do Not Track and the discussion there are part of that.

However, it won't be watching idly for long. The FTC says that if by the end of the year or early next year at the latest, no resolution is reached, it will start thinking about implementing legislation that would protect user privacy.

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