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W3C Rejects Ad Industry's Do-Not-Track Proposal 162

itwbennett writes "The W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group, which is mainly concerned with standardizing the mechanisms for server-side compliance with do-not-track requests, has rejected a proposal by from the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) that would have allowed advertisers to continue profiling users who had asked not to be tracked. The proposal would also have allowed them to 'retarget' ads to those users by showing ads relevant to one site or transaction on all subsequent sites they visited, according to the co-chairs of the W3C's Tracking Protection Working Group. The working group co-chairs also said that they planned to reject proposals similar to those made by the DAA."
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W3C Rejects Ad Industry's Do-Not-Track Proposal

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  • Do Not Track... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:29PM (#44301903)

    The most useless checkbox in the history of browsers.

    • Yep. Turning off scripting is the only answer.

      • That only works if the ad requires javascipt a lot of them are just nested iframes. I've been very happy with the noscript iframe setting! most sites only use iframes now for ads and if I need it I can still enable it for just the domain that I need it for.
        • Re:Do Not Track... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:04PM (#44302337)

          Request Policy complements noscript quite nicely, as it allows you to restrict access to third party domains. E.g., by default, requests from example.net to adserv.example.com are rejected.

      • Also, turn off 3rd party cookies. And run an ad blocker. That will substantially cut down on things. Until things eventually get integrated on the back end so that everything appears to be coming from the site that you're visiting. Like spam, it's an arms race. While spam is 99.8% solved, do not track will be much more challenging.

        • DNT is not more challenging for technical reasons. Today's ad blockers remove almost all advertising. The real challenge is politics: the popular browser makers are all in bed with the advertisers.
          • The problem is, a certain amount of advertising is necessary to make ends meet. The content doesn't pay for itself, and the choices are either to put everything behind a paywall, or have advertising. The tracking/etc. is the ad industry's attempt to make advertising online more profitable: they have a *very* low clickthrough rate to begin with, and hope that by providing targetted advertising, they'll have a better return on investment, and can sell ad impressions for more money.

            At least in theory. In pract

            • Re:Do Not Track... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:41PM (#44302809) Homepage Journal

              The problem there is that the advertisers forgot the old adage "you don't shit where you eat".

              If they had simply shown a few ads and made sure their servers were up to the task, few if any would have even bothered with ad-blockers. But no, They had to plaster the page with jumping singing dancing ads that pop up and pop under and triple (or worse) the page load time. Then to top it off, they didn't even bother to make sure the ads weren't drive-by viruses or illegal scams.

              Since all of that wasn't enough, they decided to also become internet stalkers.

              It's only natural that people came to consider most any ad they see on the web to be a probable scam and to run ad blockers to avoid the assault on their senses and more that a few infections as well.

              Then finally, when given a chance to restore some tiny shred of good will, they decided to ignore DNT.

              • by NotBorg ( 829820 )
                Don't forget that they even suck outside of the browser. We had to have an act of congress (not a figurative reference, this actually had to be addressed with your tax money) to stop the hearing loss due to TV and radio ads being 10x louder than the show content.
    • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:45PM (#44302141)
      DNT had exactly one use: to determine whether or not advertisers respect the wishes of people who do not want their browsing habits tracked. The verdict is in, and to nobody's surprise advertisers have no respect for anyone. Now we know that we are justified in using ad-blocking plugins and building browsers that block ads by default.
      • the fact that people ever thought for a second that they shouldn't have the right to see what they're looking for on a website and not ads or other shit is the problem. It's like when people defend websites that threaten others, saying their ad revenue is the only way they survive when other options exist. Screw ads. Allow em when *you* choose because you're okay with it, not just because you dare to go to websites.

        I encourage people to always adblock on techreport, because they threaten to nuke user accoun

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          Name one public media distribution system that isn't plastered with ads? People don't assume they have a right to ad-free viewing because the don't have that right. If you don't like the ads on a site you have the right to not visit that site and (so far) you have the freedom (not right) to attempt to block the ad.

          But you have absolutely no right to tell the site owner that they aren't allowed to put an ad up on their own site any more than you can tell the cable company or radio station that they aren't

          • Who said I'm telling them they can't put up an ad?

            I'm just refusing to look at it.

            Putting up an ad and relying on nothing else is a sign of laziness/failed business.

          • by Meeni ( 1815694 )

            Its one thing to put adds in your "private" space. I dislike adds and run adblockers at all time anyway, but I certainly respect that one may do what he wants on -his- website.

            Now, we are talking about people profiling YOU. They stalk you wherever you go, take notes of all the things you do, and alter your experience of the internet based on arbitrary criterion. There is a real danger, when some massive "administration" (yeah, I know, the state is the -only- possible evil, large corporations that lock a mar

      • The problem is that people want content, they dont want to pay for it, and they also dont want advertising. Unfortunately, you cant have all 3.

        to determine whether or not advertisers respect the wishes of people who do not want their browsing habits tracked. The verdict is in, and to nobody's surprise advertisers have no respect for anyone.

        And shopkeepers have no respect for people who want goods without paying. If you dont want the advertising, dont consume content from an ad-supported site. Make your own webpage, social network, whatever-- thats a lot of the strength of the internet.

        • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:19PM (#44302501)
          You are acting like tracking and advertising are inseparable. They are not, you can advertise without tracking people and you can make money doing so. I do not want to be tracked, and the only technical solution at this point is to block advertisements -- because even loading a static image from an advertiser will be used as a data point to track me.

          If a website wants me to view its ads, it should refuse the business of advertisers that create privacy-invading ads. If websites were standing up for their users they would not be at risk of becoming collateral damage in this fight.
          • Tracking is done by the webmaster. The technical solution is to use a website whose webmaster isnt using tracking. Google Analytics doesnt accidentally find itself on a website; its placed there intentionally.

            • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:40PM (#44303505) Homepage Journal

              Analytics doesn't track you across websites. It really does very little beyond what server logs provide. The one advantage is a cookie that says you are a repeat visitor. Also it is a same domain cookie so no other sites can access it. Google does have access to the data but its not attached to a unique record so they can't build an individual profile for you.

              The same is true for Coremetrics and Omniture.

        • I agree that it's inconsistent to complain about ads on unpaid content. However, advertising does not require tracking. The page that the ad is served on is in many cases already sufficient context to deliver a relevant ad.

          • Retargeting is 5x more effective than context based ad targeting.

            Here's why.

            Imagine that you've just been shopping around for a new pair of shoes. You like Nike so you went to Nike.com. They set a remarketing cookie. You want to price compare and find more reviews, so off you go to Amazon. Then you get distracted by a book you want and forget about shoes.

            The next day you hop online and go to a tech blog. They serve ads to pay the bills. Now the article you are reading has nothing to do with shoes ( its abou

            • by chihowa ( 366380 )

              Does your scenario ever actually happen, though? I've been on the internet long enough to know that you just don't click on ads. If you want Nike shoes, you go directly to to nike.com or your favorite online shoe store.

              Clicking on internet ads is like clicking links in spam email. There's absolutely no reason to trust that you'll end up where you want to go.

              • by Zynder ( 2773551 )
                You kind of answered your own question. You saw the Nike ad, but since you know better than to click it, you just went to Nike.com. They still got your business. If it had been an ad for Adidas, again, you know better than to click it, but you may just stroll on over to the Adidas site. This kind of ad response is hard to measure since you can't really count the clicks (since you know better), but as the advertiser you want to know if your campaign was successful so they have resorted to this kind of tr
              • It's startling how much ad banners are actually clicked. I don't remember how long ago, but a bunch of data was revealed on the kind of numbers behind people clicking ads, and it was staggering. It wouldn't be so prevalent if it wasn't actually helpful. Even if you go directly to Nike.com in his example, the ad still served its purpose, and there may even still be ad revenue as a result of referrer information leading from a site with the ad to nike's website.

                The tech savvy may not think to click ads for a

            • Phonicsonic wrote :-

              Retargeting is 5x more effective than context based ad targeting.


              Here's why. Imagine that you've just been shopping around for a new pair of shoes. ...Then you get distracted The next day you ... go to a tech blog. ... but look right there, an ad for Nike. Your memory kicks in and you recall shopping for shoes.

              How the hell do you forget that you are looking for new shoes? You get reminded every time you put your old ones on.

              The Nike ad is right they [sic] so you click and then buy. Was the retargeted ad helpful to you? Some would say yes. Was it invasive? Maybe. Did you buy a pair of shoes from the company that used retargeted ads, absolutely.

              No I wouldn't buy the Nikes, because an advert popping up in the middle of a tech blog will piss me off, and if it were not intrusive I would not even notice it on an unrelated site.

              What you people ignore is the piss-off factor. There may be some people who will buy something because it took over their screen, but others (like me) will be so annoyed that it is

        • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday July 17, 2013 @01:36AM (#44305741)

          That is exactly the point.

          If advertisers DID heed the DNT request and not track those who see their ads, fewer people would even bother to reach for ad blockers. But the greed was stronger. Why only benefit from people seeing your ads when you can as well sell their profile while you're at it?

          And now the greedy call those defending against their greed greedy. That's really rich.

          • Bullshit - ad blockers were popular well before tracking became the issue, most people wanted to block ads because they didn't want to see them, not because they gave a fuck about being tracked or not. The tracking issue has only become widely followed in the past couple of years.

            • Of course. Ad blockers have been around... well, I guess at the very least since the advent of full-size, flashing ads that blare obnoxious "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" noise from every speaker attached.

              The difference is magnitude. And that, in turn, depends on how much the average user is willing to put up with vs. the ease or difficulty to get rid of it. Being tracked is just another brick in that wall. You might notice that ad blocking didn't sweep across the nation over night when yesterday everyone and their

      • Good point, now if only all the browsers would remove this extra, completely useless code and maybe build in something that *really* works. Too bad the major ones would never have the balls to go the extra mile by introducing *real* anti-tracking (and anti-advertisement in general) features.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:17PM (#44302471)

        DNT had exactly one use: to determine whether or not advertisers respect the wishes of people who do not want their browsing habits tracked. The verdict is in, and to nobody's surprise advertisers have no respect for anyone. Now we know that we are justified in using ad-blocking plugins and building browsers that block ads by default.

        Careful, advertisers like Google have paid Adblock Plus to whitelist their ads [techcrunch.com]. Sure it's google ads today, but Google owns the vast majority of online ad networks and commands practically all the online ad markets, and if they're paying off the ad blockers to whitelist...

        And of course, Google is naturally tracking you. Especially whitelisted.

        I encourage people to always adblock on techreport, because they threaten to nuke user accounts that talk about using adblocking. That's not the right approach.

        It depends. Sites depend on ads to pay for content and hosting, and many with "premium" options do not allow talk of ad blockers as well. Even reputable ones - like Ars Technica. Even the merest hint of ad blocking without whitelisting the site in question is out. I got banned for mentioning noscript and didn't even mention blocking the site's ads, just it happened to block a good chunk of ads.

        Of course, one side effect of this is sites get desperate for money and they end up getting sold and re-sold to other companies. It's only a matter of time before pretty much online ads disappear as we know them because websites are all purchased up and owned by a few media conglomerates who bought them for the user information and all that.

        Of course, the little guy with a blog who wants to make a couple of bucks won't be able to attract any advertisers because they all went to the big guys with their massive data pools from buying up websites left and right.

      • I wish I could mod you higher than 5. This was exactly my thoughts on the whole DNT fiasco. I knew advertisers would never respect a totally optional flag no matter how evil it made them look in the process. Having confirmation of such creates no remorse when you then take every step you can to block out advertisers.

        I really did want to believe in the advertising model for free content on the internet. I stuck up for sites that needed the revenue to continue operating. But advertisers are just too corrupt t

    • The most useless checkbox in the history of browsers.

      I figured that the second I saw the phrase, "server-side."

      If it's not in the user's complete control, it's bullshit.

    • Re:Do Not Track... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by UltraZelda64 ( 2309504 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:04PM (#44302345)

      Yet, Mozilla seems hell-bent on supporting this destined-to-be-ignored flag, while they remove everything--even Javascript settings--from the GUI. Pure irony.

      I do have the Do Not Track setting turned on, but only as a final "fuck off." My real lines of defense are disabled third-party cookies, NoScript, DoNotTrackMe and AdBlock Plus. Anyone who really trusts in that header is a nut.

      • by Tom ( 822 )

        You might want to reconsider your choice of ABP:

        http://www.mobilegeeks.de/adblock-plus-undercover-einblicke-in-ein-mafioeses-werbenetzwerk/ [mobilegeeks.de]

        Warning, long, investigative article in german.

        • by chihowa ( 366380 )

          Warning, long, investigative article in german.

          Considering you're posting this to an English-language site frequented by people who have ADD and never RTFA, would you mind summing it up?

          ...oh look, a bird!

          • by Tom ( 822 )

            Learn another language, it's useful. :-)

            One sentence summary: ABP sold out and is now owned by a shady german company that is deeply in bed with certain ad networks.

            • I have actually started to try learning German (have been taking a break from it though), but there's no way I could read a whole article written in it. But if based on your summary you are talking about the automatically whitelisted sites by default... just uncheck the box! All it adds is one step upon first installation that can be performed in under ten seconds to disable the advertising whitelist, and it works just as it did before. No changes that I am aware of, and I have been using it for years.

              • by Tom ( 822 )

                The real reason I switched is because I don't want to be a part of their extortion scheme.

                You see, you are not the victim in this scam, you are the weapon. With millions of users behind them, they can go to advertising networks and say "nice campaign you have there, would be a shame if something happened to it..."

                • Well, once things noticeably start getting screwy, then I'll jump ship. But last time I checked, there wasn't even a Adblock Plus fork that was maintained to the level of the original and kept up-to-date. I figure with the extension being as popular as it is, once the time comes that it really is best to leave ABP behind, the developers of the forks will finally start to take the maintenance of their extensions seriously and ABP will finally have a worthy alternative. I doubt that that's changed in the l

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It is now. Advertisers sound like they were willing to play along if W3C was up for some compromise. W3C tells them to go get stuffed, oh-and-will-you-please-respect-this-DNT-flag?

      Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, any bets on whether the advertisers just take their ball, go home, and ignore any DNT requests?

      • Re:Do Not Track... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:41PM (#44302811)

        Advertisers sound like they were willing to play along if W3C was up for some compromise

        DNT is a compromise. If we were unwilling to compromise, we would build ad-blockers into browsers as a default, much like pop-up blocking ten years ago. It was because of people like you who would not stop whining about how important advertiser dollars are to keep the web alive that we even considered something like DNT. It was because advertisers promised that they really do respect our wishes, that ad blockers and legal restrictions on tracking are not needed, that DNT was ever considered by anyone.

        The advertisers showed their true colors. They never wanted a compromise, they just wanted a facade that allows them to pretend they respect us while continuing to do what they have done all along.

        • It was because of people like you who would not stop whining about how important advertiser dollars are to keep the web alive that we even considered something like DNT.

          Ads are why so much of the internet is free. I dont have to like it, you dont have to like it, but ads are why youtube is making a profit and why its still alive / free (remember the days when it was wondered, "when will google shutter this money sink?"). Ads are the very reason for Slashdot's current existence, why search engines exist, etc.

          If adblockers were built into browsers by default, can you think of a single reason for yahoo and google to continue providing search engines? Or exist? Gee, there

        • DNT is a compromise.

          No. DNT was a compromise. It was a feature with one purpose, to reflect the desire of the user not to be tracked. When a certain company with a certain shithouse browser decided to turn it on my default in a software update all for a bit of temporary marketing, DNT ceased reflecting the desire of the user. The ad companies were on board with it too as the likely people to click DNT were the ones unlikely to click ads to begin with.

          It wasn't until a large percentage of users unknowingly ended up with a brows

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        You missed the part about advertisers already refusing to respect the existing DNT flag and only being willing to cooperate at all if uit didn't actually require them to change anything in response to the flag.

        W3C was right to tell them to get stuffed. Why let them do nothing and then pretend they somehow cooperated?

    • Is that checkbox even hooked up to any code or is it just there for show?
  • by Reverand Dave ( 1959652 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:30PM (#44301929)
    Marketing departments are a bunch of assholes.
  • What is the problem here? Why couldn't the web browser just make sure that the cookies are passed via RFC3514 ( http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3514.txt [ietf.org] ) compliant packets (with the E bit field set to FALSE) if the advertiser is trustable?

    • If you don't want the advertisers tracking you, then you don't want the advertisers tracking you.
    • "Do Not Track" is pretty clear. It means "do not track," without exceptions, without room for debate.

      This fiasco has basically proved what everyone knew from the beginning, which is that advertisers do not give a damn about people who do not want to be tracked. Luckily, we have a technical solution to the problem: ad blockers. Much like spam filters and pop-up blockers, ad blockers are the solution to advertisers who have no respect and who cannot be trusted.
    • RFC3514 needs updating for IPv6

      • :-(

        Yes, you are right.

        Until RFC3514 is updated for IPv6, we can't expect IPv6 to gain full acceptance simply because of the lack of the E bit.

    • ...if the advertiser is trustable?

      Therein lies the problem.

      There is no such thing as a trustworthy advertiser. Their profit is directly tied to ad views and they have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no respect for privacy or one's desire to not be force-fed their crap.

  • I heard somewhere that Apache webservers now explicitly block "Do Not Track" requests from IE browsers. If you can't even count on your webservers to comply with DNT, what good are standards going to do?

    • by TWiTfan ( 2887093 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:38PM (#44302039)

      Here [arstechnica.com] is an article on it from Ars Technica, for anyone who thinks I'm making this shit up.

    • by phizi0n ( 1237812 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:38PM (#44302041)

      Apache ignores DNT from versions of IE that have it enabled by default because it's supposed to be something that the user specifically enables, not a blanket "hey ad industry, completely ignore this because it's always on" option.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Apache ignores DNT from versions of IE that have it enabled by default because it's supposed to be something that the user specifically enables, not a blanket "hey ad industry, completely ignore this because it's always on" option.

        No, Apache ignores DNT from IE 10 basically because the head of Apache works for Adobe, and Adobe doesn't like the idea of users not being tracked by default.

        FWIW I use Firefox on a Mac, and I disable third-party cookies and run Ad-Block Plus.

      • From a user interface perspective, I think it makes sense to pick as the default the value that most users would like it to be at. And while I have no research to back this up, I'm assuming most users would prefer not to be tracked.

    • Their changes are public, so you could have looked for yourself to find that change was reverted in October last year after only being alive in the upstream repositories for a whopping 2 months. Please don't repeat hearsay if you aren't going to verify it.
    • by Barefoot Monkey ( 1657313 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:21PM (#44302539)

      That happened last year, but it was only for a month. The patch to disregard DNT from IE was actually made by one of the authors of the DNT standard in response to IE catastrophically mutilating the standard, but they soon decided that messing with Apache wasn't appropriate and reverted the patch.

      • IE catastrophically mutilating the standard

        Oh come on. The standard was that people would choose whether or not to enable 'do not track', without being specific about how that should be chosen.

        So Microsoft let users choose during installation, express settings, or custom settings, with the effects of the express settings (including the DNT setting) elaborated above:
        http://i.imgur.com/Wo8nG.png [imgur.com]

        But then people cried foul and quickly suggested that they meant that people would have to specifically choose for

      • Actually MS followed the standard, but the people at the standard were pissed that MS implementation meant most people would be protected if it was honoured so like all fucked up bodies they changed the standard to screw over users.
  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Buy 'Do Not Track' Online.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes," with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent.

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:31PM (#44302671) Homepage

    If the NSA were to respect the DNT header then I would stop fretting about a lot of the rest of this week's news :-)

  • They put forward a proposal that would specifically let them track people who specifically said they don't want to be tracked.

    I hope the W3C told them to fuck off in so many words.

  • The advertisers actually came up with a proposal that said something like ``Well, what we'd like to do is that when the browser user chooses to not be tracked, we'll track them anyway. Would you folks find that acceptable?" Incredible.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors