Reps. Diss DAA Over Decision Not to Honor Default Do Not Track

Markey, Barton Say Advertisers Are Putting Profits over Privacy

Privacy Caucus Co-Chairs Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) said Wednesday that it was clear the Digital Advertising Alliance was "putting profits over privacy."

That came in response to DAA's decision not to recommend that its members honor the default do-not-track regime that Microsoft has baked into its latest iteration of Explorer. Microsoft had signaled several months ago it would take that step, and DAA had said it was not happy, but had yet to declare that its members would not be required to honor it.

In a statement Wednesday, Markey and Barton said that "if consumers want to be tracked online, they should have to opt-in to be tracked, instead of the other way around. This is why we are disappointed to hear the Digital Advertising Alliance insist that it will not honor Microsoft's 'Do Not Track' default and will not penalize companies that ignore it.

DAA said in announcing its intention not to comply that to do so would actually be consumer-unfriendly. "Machine-driven do not track does not represent user choice; it represents browser-manufacturer choice," it argued in a statement. "Allowing browser manufacturers to determine the kinds of information users receive could negatively impact the vast consumer benefits and Internet experiences delivered by DAA participants and millions of other Web sites that consumers value." 

DAA committed to voluntary do not track guidelines, but on an opt-in rather than opt-out basis. Markey and Barton gave them credit for that, but said it was not enough and legislation would be needed. "While we appreciate the efforts industry has taken to develop a ‘Do Not Track' signal, we have long endorsed a standard that allows consumers to affirmatively choose whether to permit collection of their personal information and targeting of advertisements. Until we have stronger privacy laws in place that mandate a company adhere to a consumer's preference, especially for children and teens, consumers and their personal information will remain at risk."

The call for legislation came as no surprise. Markey and Barton are co-sponsors of a kids do not track bill.