With the threat of federal intervention looming over the web, various corners of the industry have been trying to self-regulate over privacy concerns. Today, the W3C published the first drafts of its Do Not Track specifications (be sure to check them out at the sources below) and it says that the final recommendation will be good to go in 2012. The standards are designed so that users can state their personal preferences for data collection between sites — so, if you tell Google+ not to log your activity, Facebook shouldn't either — as well as notifying the user whether or not a given page obeys these requests.

The W3C members working on this project include OS giants Apple and Microsoft, browser creators Mozilla and Opera, and (perhaps most interestingly) Google and Facebook. Both those companies have made controversial decisions on the issue of privacy in the past, often related to how easy it is for users to control their information settings — we'll be watching to see how Do Not Track might affect either company's products.