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Re: Issue for discussion on Wed

From: Walter van Holst <walter.van.holst@xs4all.nl>
Date: Tue, 09 Jul 2013 17:39:42 +0200
To: Alan Chapell <achapell@chapellassociates.com>
Cc: public-tracking@w3.org
Message-ID: <0e31458275224d623bcbfd9d4ea06561@xs4all.nl>
On 2013-07-09 17:02, Alan Chapell wrote:
> Hi Walter - I offered two links to articles that might be helpful.
> 
> http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-20123464-12/amazons-silk-browser-now-e
> ff-approved-really/
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/11/07/help_my_belkin_router/
> 
> I'm making a point that most UA's have access to URL history and other
> information that could easily be used for tracking as defined by the 
> WG.
> It would seem inconsistent to have DNT block other forms of tracking if
> we're not also going to have DNT block UA tracking.

Thank you for the links and reminding me of them.

Neither the multi-tiered Silk browser-architecture nor the Belkin router 
are user agents in the strict sense of the word. The Belkin router is 
the easiest case: it does not initiate http requests. While I would 
agree with anyone who would consider Belkin's behaviour highly worrisome 
from multiple perspectives, it is a Belkin problem, not a UA problem.

Silk is more complicated (and no less worrisome), but again, anything 
that happens in Amazon's EC2 caching part of that multi-tiered browser 
appears more akin to a proxy than an UA-extension. Admittedly, this is a 
pretty grey area.

As a result, I am much more favourable to a functional definition of 
tracking such as the one proposed by Rob van Eijk today than of trying 
to cover both ends of a HTTP interaction.

Even if we did, this is an issue we can't easily solve through this 
standard simply because both in the case of Silk and of Belkin one could 
argue that both Amazon and Belkin have acquired out-of-band-permission 
through their terms of usage/general terms and conditions. As a European 
privacy advocate I could easily argue that these are insufficient 
mechanisms for acquiring meaningful consent, reality tells me that this 
doesn't mesh well with the sanctity of the freedom of contract in some 
other parts of the world.

One can only hope that the EU DPAs will have a chat with both Amazon and 
Belkin in the near future.

Regards,

Walter
Received on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 15:40:18 UTC

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