NEWS12 October 2012

US consumers expect do-not-track to stop all data collection

Europe Legal North America

US— A majority of US citizens say that do-not-track options in web browsers should prevent websites from collecting any information about them, according to researchers at Berkeley.

The survey of 1,200 people tested awareness of do-not-track (DNT) and expectations of what it should do. Only 13% of participants had heard of DNT, but 60% said they would expect it to stop all data collection – which is what privacy groups have been lobbying for.

Advertising industry representatives, by contrast, think DNT options should only be used to stop behaviourally-driven targeting – that is, displaying adverts based on a user’s web browsing habits. However, only 14% of respondents agreed with this definition of DNT.

Publishers and marketers have argued that data collection should still be permitted for research purposes – to understand the behaviour of visitors to sites.

US regulators seem minded to agree, albeit with strict caveats. A Federal Trade Commission report in March said that: “An effective do-not-track system should go beyond simply opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements; it should opt them out of collection of behavioural data for all purposes other than those that would be consistent with the context of the interaction (e.g., preventing click-fraud or collecting de-identified data for analytics purposes.”

But European data protection officials have stated that do-not-track should mean no tracking, regardless of purpose.

Meanwhile, advertising groups continue to make the case that without advertising and audience data to depend on, the internet economy could be wrecked. The IAB this week flagged a report from the Harvard Business School which suggests that in the US, the ad-supported internet ecosystem was responsible for 5.1 million jobs and a $530bn annual contribution to the economy.


1 Comment

12 years ago

Once again, marketers and researchers are reminded that we live in a different world than the consumer does. We need to do a better job of stepping into their shoes and remembering what it's like to be a regular person doing regular internet surfing and regular shopping.

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