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posted by cmn32480 on Monday October 12 2015, @08:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the leave-me-alone dept.

A universal do-not-track feature has been advocated by privacy groups after being introduced by the Federal Trade Commission in 2010. But the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – composed of software companies, academics, privacy groups, and others who determine international Web-browsing standards – has long struggled to develop a unified approach for the feature.

The somewhat-arcane debate over Internet tracking has mostly simmered quietly, but now some lawmakers are arguing that a working group the consortium set up to develop the standard has become overly influenced by tech industry concerns, putting those interests ahead of protecting consumers from the possibility of privacy invasion. The group is currently chaired by representatives from Adobe and Intel.

"Unfortunately, the group's composition no longer reflects the broad range of interests and perspectives needed to develop a strong privacy standard," Sen. Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts, Sen. Al Franken (D) of Minnesota, and Rep. Joe Barton (R) of Texas wrote in a letter on Wednesday to the consortium. "The 'Do Not Track' standard should empower consumers to stop unwanted collection and use of their personal data. At the same time, the standard should not permit certain companies to evade important consumer protections and engage in anticompetitive practices."


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  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday October 12 2015, @09:52PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Monday October 12 2015, @09:52PM (#248646) Homepage Journal

    While /etc/hosts does the job for power users, it fails to yield joy for my aged grandmother. Consider that a careless typo could render your computer useless: some would reinstall the OS, others would buy a new box.

    There is also the problem that one is not particularly required to refer to /etc/hosts when performing DNS lookups. It's commonly used but really you could roll your own resolver that doesn't. People who flog the analytics SDKs would be motivated to do that if their blackholing became common practice.

    In the case of Apple what I'd like to see would be that apps that use mobile analytics would not be permitted in the app store, or would be removed if discovered after approval, but then if wishes were horses I would not have sung for my Peet's Coffee this afternoon.

    A somewhat happy solution would be a way to add and remove entries to /etc/hosts that enforces some constraints so you cannot break your box; while that would not solve the problem of resolvers that don't follow not the standard but the convention, at least it would work for the next few years.

    I have a modest list of analytics server hostnames; these are distinct from web advertising servers unfortunately web ads can be used for analytics too. If there were a way to count impressions that didn't require the ad to be served from some other server than the actual content, maybe there is but I don't know what it would be.

    You'd think PPC ads from the same host would work unfortunately javascript is used to track fraudulent clicks. Real live human don't just issue GET requests, we move the mouse around at finite speed, maybe pause and think, somewhat but not really random in our motions.

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