Tech Tools Will Aid Privacy, Even if Companies Won’tby
by Karl Bode (courtesy dslreports)
The effort to get Do Not Track functionality embedded into browsers quickly descended into total farce, with sides currently bickering over the very definition of “tracking.” In this new age of undeletable cookies, behavioral advertising, deep packet inspection, clickstream sales and search result hijacking, neither the FTC, the W3C, nor the marketing, content and telecom industries really want to jeopardize the billions to be made from snoopertising by empowering consumers. The result? A privacy safeguard quagmire that feels like a 1960’s absurdist play.
The “discussion” became more absurd and convoluted when companies like Microsoft and Firefox openly proclaimed their support for consumers and for do not track, only to be assailed as the worst sort of villains by incumbent ISPs, content companies and the marketing industry.
Jonathan Mayer, the Firefox employee that turned off third-party cookies in upcoming releases of the browser, offers an interesting interview with AdExchanger (via Business Insider) where he discusses his thoughts on whether the Tracking Protection Working Group can finally reach a consensus during their latest meeting this week in California:
I hope the group will come to some kind of a consensus, but I’m not very optimistic that’s going to happen. The leverage used to be on the advertising industry’s side, but it has become clear by virtue of the technologies at the browsers’ disposal that the leverage is now on the consumer’s side. The advertising side would be expected to reevaluate their hardline “We’re not going to negotiate” stance and rethink their strategy. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. So I’m not too optimistic on negotiated terms for Do Not Track, but I’m increasingly optimistic that by virtue of the browsers’ efforts, consumers will get the choices they want.
Granted that only goes so far. Browser settings can’t stop AT&T from handing your data over to the NSA without a warrant, or stop your carrier from selling your daily location data or clickstream data to the highest bidder (in fact carriers refuse to even really talk about either).
Despite increasingly invasive tracking technologies, there still aren’t modern consumer protection regulations in place to protect consumers from privacy abuses. Given the collective lobbying muscle of the telecom, content, and advertising industries that’s not particularly surprising, given none of those sectors want real rules with any teeth, or tools that empower consumers.
Thank you. TiA. xoxo
- 17 Percent of Firefox Users Have Enabled Do Not Track (news.softpedia.com)
- Firefox readies tougher stance on cookies (reviews.cnet.com)
- Don’t Use Global Browser Stats (algonquinstudios.com)