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W3C Announced ‘Tracking Protection Working Group’

Earlier this week on September 9, the W3C announced the formally announced the creation of a “Tracking Protection Working Group” to work on defining what tracking is, signaling user intent, and tracking protection lists.

TPWG is chartered to improve user privacy and user control by defining mechanisms for expressing user preferences around Web tracking and for blocking or allowing Web tracking elements. The group seeks to standardize the technology and meaning of “Do Not Track,” and of Tracking Selection Lists.

With the formation of the new privacy working group, the W3C takes the next step in establishing a standard for web sites to detect when consumers express their intent not to be tracked and help protect those same consumers from sites that don’t respect that intent.

The W3C’s action here can help protect consumers from unwanted tracking.

Internet Explorer 9 was built with a focus on consumer privacy. The Tracking Protection feature in IE9 provides a way for consumers to benefit today by restricting which sites on the Web get information from them.

As Dean Hachamovitch explained in the blog introducing Tracking Protection a comprehensive approach requires both;

  • The ability for Web sites to detect consumers intent not to be tracked
  • A mechanism for consumers to protect themselves when their intent is not respected. Since the announcement, numerous privacy organizations have begun offering Tracking Protection Lists.

“The W3C accepted and published Microsoft’s member submission for an Internet standard to help protect consumer privacy. IE9 supports the “Do-Not-Track” header/DOM property and Tracking Protection Lists outlined in that W3C submission. The W3C noted that the submission was “…both timely and well-aligned with the consortium’s objectives and priorities” and announced a workshop at Princeton University to continue standardisation work for Web privacy and tracking protection,” the IE team informed.

As Dean noted last December, defining what the Do-Not-Track signal means and what to do with it is an important part of completing this work.

The full charter and details of the working group are available here.

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