Research exempted from do-not-track initiative
US — A group of advertisers, agencies, ad networks and tech companies including Google and Yahoo are supporting a do-not-track system to let web users block behavioural advertising while still allowing their data to be collected for market research.
The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which brings together trade bodies including the Internet Advertising Bureau and the American Advertising Federation, said it will now start work on a browser-based opt-out system which it hopes to implement within nine months. It will work with browser manufacturers to develop “clear” and “consistent” ways for consumers to exercise choice, it said.
Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz called the latest move “a very important step forward”.
Privacy campaigners may be disappointed that the new browser-based system is not comprehensive, but researchers will be relieved. It will still allow tracking for the purposes of market research, as well as “product development” and law enforcement.
The industry has argued in the past that do-not-track initiatives would be unworkable (in 2010 the IAB said that a do-not-track system would mean “reengineering the internet’s architecture”), but has faced increasing concern from the public and politicians. The latest move comes as the White House calls on Congress to bring in a privacy ‘bill of rights’.
Over the last couple of years the DAA has developed principles for behavioural advertising, and an opt-out system whereby web users can click an icon in the corner of a targeted ad to opt out. But not all companies played along, and the system was limited because it relied on cookies - the very same technology used to track people.