NEWS9 March 2012

‘Do not track’ means no tracking, says EU data protection group

Europe Government

BELGIUM— It was hailed as an “important step forward” in the US, but the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) proposed do-not-track system won’t cut it in Europe, according to data protection watchdogs.

The DAA’s proposal to let web users block behavioural advertising while still allowing their data to be collected for market research purposes has failed to meet with the approval of the European Union’s Article 29 Data Protection Working Party.

In a letter sent to ad industry bodies IAB Europe and EASA, working party chairman Jacob Kohnstamm says “a global do-not-track mechanism could be a very efficient way to deal with user consent for the tracking of their web surfing behaviour”.

However, he says such consent can only be provided if users “of all browsers have made an active and informed choice to allow or disallow the tracking”.Crucially for researchers, Kohnstamm also says that to comply with EU law, a do-not-track setting in a browser means users “should no longer be tracked” for any purpose.

“It must be clear that data from a user with an active DNT-setting cannot be used for purposes such as ‘market research’ and ‘product development’,” Kohnstamm wrote.

EU rules requiring opt-in and informed consent on placing tracking cookies on people’s computers come into force in May.