In a move that melds sneaky with shrewd, Microsoft has added Mozilla's Do Not Track browser header to the submission of its Tracking Protection proposal to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). This potentially leaves Google – the third of the three contenders for privacy-enhanced browsing – isolated in a self-regulatory alliance …
....governments around the world could just introduce laws to make tracking illegal.
But that would be TOO simple, wouldn't it? And too effective? And would mean that the advertisers couldn't still prey on the millions of people who don't even know that this stuff is going on.
Damn! I knew it was too good an idea to work.
Not just concerned
"Both the US FTC and the European Union are currently concerned about Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) in particular, and the tracking of individuals across the internet in general..."
The EU is more than concerned having issued a directive effectively banning all cookies without *explicit* prior consent in 2009 with a requirement for member states to enact legislation by May 2011. Of course, as is their wont few governments have actually passed legislation but they will be required to do so and then the lawsuits will come.
Limiting cookies to the current session is probably the minimum restriction that anyone can get away with but with more and more applications being "always" on that probably isn't enough and third-parties are probably doomed and trackers will only have themselves to blame.
In fact, if you look at what HTML5 offers then cookies themselves are probably on the way out - local storage and websockets are a good replacement and a browser-enforced solution is probably the only practical approach. "You need an HTML5-capable browser to use this website" notices could provide the necessary kick up the arse for the laggards. Except those millions stuck with IE 6 for reasons of compatibility...
We are supposed to trust the snoopers and spammer to not track us?
What penalties will the execs face (note: not the company, the execs themselves) of companies that do not respect the "Do Not Track" setting? Here's my guess: none whatsoever. "Lessons will be learned" blah-de-blah, but nothing will happen.
Until the execs of the ad companies are held personally liable (say, £10,000 for each breach) they won't give a shit. They are paid to take "business risks" so it's time they actually had to bear those risks.
Not that I trust any ad/marketing company to respect my wishes - I will still block them into oblivion.
Make mobile browsers and cell handsets eligible, too
With people asserting that smartphones will take over from PCs more attention should be paid to the involuntary tracking users are subjected to without their consent or knowledge.
Knowing someone's physical location is FAR more intrusive than what they do on a computer.
Even more importantly yu never know who Jobs or Google are selling it to.
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