Markey, Barton: 'Do Not' Means 'Collect' as Well as 'Track' and 'Target'

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Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) have asked the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), meeting this week in Seattle to continue their work in devising global standards for do-not-track regimes, to include "do not collect and target" as part of the definition.

Markey and Barton are co-chairs of the House Privacy Caucus and co-sponsors of a kids' do-not-track bill.

While most advertisers and major Web browsers are committed to a voluntary, browser-based do-not-track regime, Markey and Barton argue in a letter to the consortium that opting for do-not-track should mean not only no targeted marketing, but also no data collection.

They also want do-not-track to be the default setting on browsers, as Microsoft has indicated it will be on the next iteration of Explorer. Barton warned the group not to agree to ignore a do-not-track signal if it is made the default setting, as some advertisers would prefer.

"While a consumer can benefit from targeted advertising, I firmly believe that they should have the choice to 'opt in' to such usage of their personal information," Markey said. "I urge the W3C to endorse tracking standards that reflect the point of view of consumers who believe that privacy is a right, and even if technology changes, the values of users remain the same."

Advertisers signed on to voluntary do-not-track are not happy with that development. After the Microsoft announcement earlier this month, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which agreed to support browser-based do-not-track, said that the company's "unilateral decision" could "narrow the scope of consumer choices, undercut thriving business models, and reduce the availability and diversity of the Internet products and services that millions of American consumers currently enjoy at no charge."

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