Now Consumer Groups Want A 'Do Not Track' List

from the and-how-would-that-work-exactly? dept

While the "Do Not Call" list in the US has mostly been successful (with some glaring exceptions) in cutting down on intrusive telemarketing calls, it has kicked off a somewhat annoying trend for consumer groups to demand all sorts of other "Do Not X" lists. Popular for a while was the idea of a "Do Not Spam" list, which most folks realized would be almost impossible to administer. Now, some consumer groups are pushing for a similar "Do Not Track" list, following all of the recent stories about behavioral marketing and clickstream tracking. This list would, its proponents claim, let people opt-out of allowing advertisers to track them. Again, though, this idea would be nearly impossible to manage in real life. In most cases, advertisers have no real idea of who they're tracking anyway -- so it's difficult to see how one would "opt-out" of such data collection in the first place. It would seem that a much more efficient (and effective) solution is to just let the technology evolve to the point that users can block such tracking activities on their own. In many cases, that's already possible. On top of that, as companies like Phorm are discovering, the public outcry against even the possibility of doing something bad concerning clickstream tracking will hopefully keep these firms in check.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    rkme, Apr 16th, 2008 @ 10:13pm

    did you happen to read the pdf?

    Did you read the pdf of FTC? It was pretty scary imo. They want everything spelled out for those of them that are ad challenged and can't tell the difference between ads and non-ads. They want to slip govt messages into learning sites and make fake pages so people will watch out for themselves. Bye bye Net Neutrality. lol It reads like something Bush thought up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2008 @ 11:49pm

    Tracking people huh? Well, to that, don't I have "The right of the people to be secure in their persons"?

    I'm pretty sure this is a part of the Bill of Rights. While we worry about a "Do not track list" now people are getting dna tests anytime they are arrested-- without even being charged.

    This country needs to read and re-read the Constitution and Bill of rights and have a coming-to-Jesus moment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Paul, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 2:00am

    But how will it work?

    A good idea but how will it work in practice? AFAIK most of these systems are IP based but many of us are not using fixed IP addresses. Without access to the ISPs allocation log it is nearly impossible to determine who is using an address.

    The only ways I can see it working is either checking for a cookie or having to run yet another piece of software in the background.

    A good idea that I would DEFINITELY sign up for providing I don't need to run a 'client'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jake, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:07am

    Personally, I'd settle for an easily comprehensible opt-out form placed somewhere prominent on my ISP's website; some npeople might argue for an opt-in but as far as I'm concerned, anyone who can't be bothered to work out how to turn it off is fair game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Crazy Coyote, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:37am

    The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are highly over rated and slowly eroded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    James, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:14am

    Not do-able

    The "DO NOT CALL LIST" (DNCL) is and was a good idea, even if its not 100% perfect; it addresses a real problem. Its also tied to a specific instance (ie a person/household's phone number).

    I work in the IT field, the web specifically; this proposal for a "DO NOT TRACK LIST" (DNTL) is ill concieved by those who have no idea how the web really works. I'm no fan of web advertising or tracking methods, but I know how they work and they cannot easily be tied to one specific instance (ie one person or household).

    For a DNTL to work, literally a company will need to cut off all web advertising/tracking for all site visitors until they signed up for that one specific website and AGREE to be tracked to tie it to one computer.. and even then multiple users of the same computer might have different preferences; this makes it untenible.

    If such a thing were authorized these same people WILL agree to be tracked simply because they WILL NOT be able to browse ANY content, bid on their whatever, or purchase any product because this tracking is such an integral part of how web companies run their business; it will have the effect of making nearly any websites very un-userfriendly. FYI, the website you are reading right now employs some form of cookies, and I haven't gotten into server logs, unique identifiers based on IP and so on.

    The upside to websites tracking your visits to their site, and purchases, is that you come to them.. this is much different from telemarketers who barge their way into your home with a phone call at dinner time; if you initiated calls to them there would be no need for a DNCL.

    As for resolution, unless your computer is horribly out of date you already have the tools to manage much of this by cutting off 3rd party cookies, and cookies to companies that do advertising tracking, (ie doubleclick, performics, etc.), its called a cookie blocker and all majors browsers support this functionality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    jonnyq, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:50am

    so the only way to implement a "do not track" list is to start tracking people well enough to know who not to track.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    How about just making all data collection and contact opt-in instead of opt-out?

    It's not like I have time or resources to opt out of contact from every entity out there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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