W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-tracking@w3.org > March 2012

Re: Action-101; language for issue-6 for TCS spec

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2012 19:59:33 -0800
Cc: "public-tracking@w3.org (public-tracking@w3.org)" <public-tracking@w3.org>
Message-Id: <DA0F8217-28C8-44F7-AFC9-E8EED97B5A59@gbiv.com>
To: John Simpson <john@consumerwatchdog.org>
On Mar 2, 2012, at 3:33 PM, John Simpson wrote:

> Colleagues:
> I was asked to write a paragraph answering issue-6  (What are underlying concerns? Why are we doing this? What are people afraid of?) from the business perspective.  Three points:
> 1. Here is my proposed text
> Business perspective:
> "While there are a variety of business models to monetize content on the web, many rely on advertising. Advertisements can be targeted to a particular user's interests based on information gathered about one's online activity. While the Internet industry believes many users appreciate such targeted advertising, as well as other personalized content, there is also an understanding that some people find the practice intrusive.  If this opinion becomes widespread, it could undermine the trust necessary to conduct business on the Internet.  This Compliance specification and a companion Tracking Preference Expression specification are intended to give users a means to indicate their tracking preference and to spell out the obligations of compliant websites that receive the Do Not Track message.  The goal is to provide the user with choice, while allowing practices necessary for a smoothly functioning Internet. This should be a win-win for business and consumers alike."

I think my introduction (regarding how and why tracking is used
by industry) is better.

> 2. While I appreciate Shane's effort (below) to craft a text from the consumer perspective, I don't think it captures that view.  In fairness,  many of you may well believe my text misses the business point of view. Here is how I would express the user (or consumer) view:
> User Perspective:
> "Data about an individual belongs to that individual.  People have the right to know how data about them will be collected and how it will be used.  Empowered with that knowledge, individuals can decide whether to allow their online activities to be tracked and data about them to be collected.  Many Internet companies use data gathered about people's online activities to personalize content and target advertising based on their perceived interests.  While some people appreciate this personalization of content and ads in certain contexts, others are troubled by what they perceive as an invasion of their privacy.  For them the benefit of personalization is not worth their concerns about allowing entities with whom they have no direct relationship, to amass detailed profiles about their activities. The goal of this specification is to enable consumers to state their preference about whether their activities are tracked and what the obligations of a compliant website are when a Do Not Track message is received."

I would be happy to add that to my introduction, though I am not
certain the first sentence is true in all jurisdictions (it might
be, I just don't know), nor for all data (judgements, defaults,
bankruptcy, public service, and real property ownership are all
public records about an individual).  I suggest deleting that
sentence and using the rest.

> 3. My belief is that both Shane and I are operating with the best of intentions. Yet,  I suspect that neither of us is happy with the other's proposal.   That goes to the point I made earlier.  We simply do not need any explanation of why we are offering this standard.  I like philosophy.  I have a BA in philosophy. But we don't need or want to engage in endless debates.  All we need are specifications that explain how to send a DNT message, how to respond to it and what the obligations are to be compliant.

While I agree that is all you might need, what I need
is enough information to make sense of what is required and to
explain that sense to people who are not in our working group.

> A comparison to traffic laws may by illustrative of my view.  It doesn't matter why a speed limit near a school is set at 25 mph (or whatever). There's no explanation of why (kids might run into the street) in the traffic code.  The law says signs will be put up with the limit and that compliant drivers will stay under the limit or risk enforcement action -- a ticket from a cop.

Traffic laws are set by governments and enforced by police.
W3C recommendations are just that -- recommendations -- and
it helps to get them implemented if people can understand why.

Received on Saturday, 3 March 2012 03:59:58 UTC

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