DNT: Transatlantic Divide
At heart the W3C DNT process is an attempt to redress the FTC's lack of mandate in the field of online privacy protection. It is also an attempt by some parts of industry to fend of stricter regulation on the US side of the Atlantic. It is also a bridgehead for lobbying in Brussels for more lax regulation than the current framework. As such this standard is almost doomed not to bring what it pretends to do: to give users safeguards against unfettered monitoring of their web browsing behaviour.
Tracking of website usage across different domains and contexts is becoming increasingly common for various purposes. Behavioural advertising being the most common of them. The EU e-Privacy directive tried to address this by regulating cookies, but the results so far are mixed at best. Part of the issue is that most of the firms collecting data about website usage are based in the USA which does not have data protection that is comparable with the rest of the industrialised world.
To address this the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has launched a self-regulatory effort, supported by the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to describe a standard for expressing user's tracking preferences. This so-called DNT working group tries to reconcile vastly differing approaches between advertising industry, publishers, browser makers, social media sites and civil society.
This presentation adresses:
- the extent of online tracking and profiling;
- the current state of the W3C DNT standard;
- the dynamics of this process, the interests at stake;
- the viability of the outcomes of this standard setting process.