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Re: Explanatory Memorandum

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2013 17:14:58 -0700
Cc: "public-tracking@w3.org (public-tracking@w3.org)" <public-tracking@w3.org>, Peter Swire <peter@peterswire.net>, "Matthias Schunter (Intel Corporation)" <mts-std@schunter.org>
Message-Id: <D795CA93-E73D-434B-8EBD-950FF37EEA49@gbiv.com>
To: Thomas Roessler <tlr@w3.org>
On Jul 18, 2013, at 1:32 PM, Thomas Roessler wrote:

> On 2013-07-18, at 15:41 -0400, Alan Chapell <achapell@chapellassociates.com> wrote:
> 
>>  Why was the document entitled “What Base Text to Use for the Do Not Track Compliance Specification” (“Decision Document”) characterized as a group decision rather than a chair’s decision? The Decision Document repeatedly uses the term “group decision.” However, a group decision would seem to suggest that WG member votes were tallied, but I don’t see votes tabulated anywhere. 
> 
> The document is correctly characterized as a group decision:  Based on the discussion and the objections received, the chairs identified the path forward that drew the weakest objections, and recorded it as a group decision (as is their task).
> 
> Of note, in the W3C process document: "Groups should favor proposals that create the weakest objections. This is preferred over proposals that are supported by a large majority but that cause strong objections from a few people."
> 
> Also of note: "When the Chair believes that the Group has duly considered the legitimate concerns of dissenters as far as is possible and reasonable, the group should move on."

I think it is fair to say that the chairs considered the objections
to the so-called "DAA proposal" as a whole and decided that the June
draft is better than that proposal as a base for further change
proposals.  The chairs do not seem to have considered, in that
decision, any of the objections on the June draft itself.

For example, Adobe's objection to the new and overly broad definition
of tracking in the June draft, which differs significantly from
the definition in the prior editors' draft, any of the definitions
that received support on the mailing list, and the actual
requirements for compliance in the June draft itself, is only
indirectly mentioned in a footnote of the explanatory comments
(in a way that completely ignores that the objection was to
the definition of tracking, BTW).

As long as we are clear on what was decided and what exactly
is going to be ruled as closed in future discussion, I have no
problem with that being described as a decision of the WG.
What we have decided is an editorial process.

Personally, I agree with the conclusion, assuming we look at it
as two complete alternatives with no other choices.  I have
no problem understanding that "tracking" includes the collection
and retention of behavioral data, based on past user activity
across multiple unaffiliated websites, such that the behavioral
data can be re-associated with that user when they return.
Of course, the reason I have no problem understanding that is
because I have my own definitions of tracking in mind.
I think I have proposed at least five, so far, each of which
would consider the above as tracking.

The chairs' decision refers extensively to other folks' opinions
of what tracking ought to encompass, particularly those expressed
by US and European regulators.  Notably, people who are not
participants in the working group.  I would not have a problem
with that, either, if it weren't for the fact that the chairs
have consistently prevented the working group from discussing
the definition of tracking.  Hence, we haven't had a firm
discussion of ISSUE-5, we haven't agreed to what it is that
the user is attempting to turn off, and thus we have no objective
basis on which document better leads us to a common goal.
We have no common goal.  I am happy to hear that the chairs
think others have a common goal.  It would be nice if that was
proposed as text.  Note that the FTC and EU comments were directed
to collection of personal data across multiple sites, and thus
are more limited than the June draft's definition (on both axes).

I think the DAA proposal was haphazardly drafted and poorly
thought out, just like the June draft, and I assume much of
that was due to the timing of these bizarre fire drills of
text proposals being forced on short deadlines, and then
spending the bulk of our meeting times talking about largely
irrelevant and extreme alternatives from folks (on both sides)
who don't even implement Internet services.

The June draft has twice now been presented to the press as
"the way forward" for the group, as decided by the chairs and
W3C staff, even though the group has not been allowed even the
opportunity to decide whether it should be published as a WD.
It is, in fact, getting rather hard to discuss "the June draft"
because it has changed several times and does not exist as a
published specification in dated space.

I do not expect Peter to be aware of how we do things at the W3C.
I do, however, expect the W3C Team to respect its own publication
process, warts and all.  I am sure you are aware that publication
as a WD does not require consensus, though at least some agreement
to continue is necessary.  If you don't think we are able to
obtain that agreement in the group, then don't talk to the
public as if we have made any relevant decisions.  We should be
measured by the specifications we produce, not the polls we take.

....Roy
Received on Saturday, 20 July 2013 00:15:21 UTC

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