US Congress’ Privacy Caucus says DAA’s anti-‘Do Not Track’ stance puts “profits over privacy”

US Congress’ Privacy Caucus says DAA’s anti-‘Do Not Track’ stance puts “profits ...

Yesterday, ad industry body Digital Advertising Alliance issued a statement that said that the “Do Not Track” settings of Microsoft’s upcoming Internet Explorer 10 were not an appropriate standard for customers. Today, the co-Chairs of the Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus have spoken out, saying that the DAA is putting “profits over privacy” by putting down “Do Not Track”.

Specifically, the fact that the “Do Not Track” setting is on by default, and not an opt-out feature, has the DAA up in arms. And Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) have come out in support of the ‘opt-in’ option that Microsoft has proposed.

Here is the statement from Barton and Markey:

Privacy is an issue that affects everyone, and the Digital Advertising Alliance’s announcement made clear that it puts profits over privacy.  If consumers want to be tracked online, they should have to opt-in to be tracked, instead of the other way around.  This is why we are disappointed to hear the Digital Advertising Alliance insist that it will not honor Microsoft’s “Do Not Track” default and will not penalize companies that ignore it.

“While we appreciate the efforts industry has taken to develop a ‘Do Not Track’ signal, we have long endorsed a standard that allows consumers to affirmatively choose whether to permit collection of their personal information and targeting of advertisements. Until we have stronger privacy laws in place that mandate a company adhere to a consumer’s preference, especially for children and teens, consumers and their personal information will remain at risk

This isn’t the first time that the DAA has spoken out against the way that “Do Not Track” is implemented in IE10 either, and Microsoft’s chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch has written in support of the company’s choice.

Basically, the DAA is trying to take the tack that having the “Do Not Track” option on by default in IE gives Microsoft ‘too much control’ over what kinds of information that users receive. It’s trying to pitch the tracking of users to deliver information as a good thing. From its statement:

Allowing browser manufacturers to determine the kinds of information users receive could negatively impact the vast consumer benefits and Internet experiences delivered by DAA participants and millions of other Web sites that consumers value.

Barton and Markey don’t seem to agree, and I’m pretty happy with that.

The Do Not Track mode blocks tags of data used by advertisers and website owners to track users across their sites and networks. While most uses of these ‘cookies’ aren’t malicious in nature, they can provide a wealth of information about users to advertisers.

Internet company Yahoo has already announced plans to ‘roll its own’ Do Not Track service by ‘early summer’. Google has stated that its Chrome browser will also support a ‘do not track’ feature of sorts, although some cookies, like those used for law enforcement and market research, will still be allowed. Twitter announced that it would be supporting the DNT standard on its platform earlier this year.

Image Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

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