Skip to main content

W3C to consider Microsoft’s “do not track” proposal for standard

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has accepted Microsoft’s submission of the “do not track” technology the company developed for Internet Explorer 9 for consideration as a possible Internet standard. The technology basically operates via “Tracking Protection Lists” that can be published by any number of providers. If Web users like the thought behind a particular list, they can subscribe to it and have the the sites and services specified in the Tracking Protection List automatically blocked as users browse the Web normally.

“The privacy concerns from consumers and academics and governments world-wide have both technical and non-technical aspects,” Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch wrote in its official Internet Explorer blog. “Addressing these concerns will involve technology. The W3C’s involvement provides the best forum possible for that technology discussion. Just as the community has worked together at the W3C on interoperable HTML5, we can now work together on an interoperable (or universal, to use the FTC privacy report’s term) way to help protect consumers’ privacy.”

Online tracking sites and services have come under increasing scrutiny from consumer advocates and government policy makers. Tracking services collect information about the sites users visit, what they search for, and even where they click in some sites in order to gather more insights into the users’ behaviors and preferences. This data is then sold to marketers or directly used to target advertising that may be more tailored to a users’ interests. However, while marketers claim many consumers find targeted ads make their online experience more relevant, the privacy concerns can be significant: for instance, consumers might be deeply troubled if they knew marketers were trading information about time users spent online researching a medical condition.

“The proposal with the W3C is a significant step toward enabling an industry standard way for Web sites to (1) detect when consumers express their intent not to be tracked, and (2) help protect themselves from sites that do not respect that intent,” Hachamovitch wrote.

Microsoft’s proposed standard is opt-in: sites would have to voluntarily check for page properties or headers indicating a particular user did not want to have their activity track, and then put mechanisms in place to ensure tracking information was not collected or passed along to third parties. The proposed standard just deals with technological ways of handling tracking preferences; it does not propose any enforcement or compliance monitoring solutions: technically, sites could claim to honor do-not-track preferences and collect tracking information anyway.

Editors' Recommendations

Geoff Duncan
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Geoff Duncan writes, programs, edits, plays music, and delights in making software misbehave. He's probably the only member…
How to do hanging indent on Google Docs
Google Docs in Firefox on a MacBook.

The hanging indent is a classic staple of word processing software. One such platform is Google Docs, which is completely free to start using. Google Docs is packed with all kinds of features and settings, to the point where some of its more basic capabilities are overlooked. Sure, there are plenty of interface elements you may never use, but something as useful as the hanging indent option should receive some kind of limelight.

Read more
How to disable VBS in Windows 11 to improve gaming
Highlighting VBS is disabled in Windows 11.

Windows 11's Virtualization Based Security features have been shown to have some impact on gaming performance — even if it isn't drastic. While you will be putting your system more at risk, if you're looking to min-max your gaming PC's performance, you can always disable it. Just follow the steps below to disable VBS in a few quick clicks.

Plus, later in this guide, we discuss if disabling VBS is really worth it, what you'd be losing if you choose to disable it, and other options for boosting your PCs gaming performance that don't necessarily involve messing with VBS.

Read more
How to do a hanging indent in Microsoft Word
A person typing on a keyboard, connected to a Pixel Tablet.

Microsoft Word is one of the most feature-rich word processing tools gifted to us human beings. In fact, the very word “Word” has invaded nomenclature to the point where any discussion of this type of software, regardless of what the product is actually called, typically results in at least one person calling the software “Word.”

Read more