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Do Not Track's future in doubt as major ad group withdraws from talks

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firefox do not track stock 1020
firefox do not track stock 1020

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has spent nearly two years trying to standardize and implement Do Not Track — an HTTP header that tells advertisers and other third parties not to follow you around the internet — and the many delays and roadblocks that have cropped up since are starting to make it look like its efforts will be futile. According to The Hill, a major group representing the online advertising industry has pulled its support and believes that it's essentially impossible for the W3C to carry out its plan to create a Do Not Track Standard. The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) said it was withdrawing from the W3C's disucssions around Do Not Track and also said that the talks "have reached the end of [their] useful life" — and it also said that those talks should stay dead.

While the W3C can certainly carry on without the DAA, it's just another in a long series of setbacks. Despite pressure from the FTC and members of Congress, the W3C has missed a number of deadlines for getting a final Do Not Track proposal in place. A bill was reintroduced back in February, but the group was never able to finalize it in time for a July deadline. Peter Swire, who led the W3C until being tapped for the White House's NSA review panel, rejected a proposal endorsed by the DAA back in June, and there's been no movement forward since. In fact, Swire's just as skeptical as the DAA that Do Not Track will ever move forward. "I no longer see any workable path to a standard that will gain active support from both wings of the Working Group," he said.

However, some see the departure of the DAA as a development that might actually benefit the W3C and its efforts to standardize Do Not Track. The group made it clear last year that it was more interested in its own self-regulatory approach that wouldn't require companies to abide by DNT. Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and a participant in the Do Not Track discussions, said the DAA's involvement was "one of the key reasons the W3C process has floundered." Still, even with the DAA out of the picture, he remained skeptical that the W3C would be successful, a feeling that seems to sum up the prevailing attitude as attempts to get Do Not Track standardized continue to drag on.