Re: ACTION-390: alternative UA affordances for DNT choice

First, let's be clear about DNT would apply. Let me know if I have this 
wrong. For a special purpose device, e.g. a net-enabled scale, data 
collection by the first party is implicit in the nature of the device, 
isn't it? And it's first party in any case. But, DNT would apply in two 
cases with these sorts of UA: 1) the UA is going to transfer 1st party 
data to a 3rd party, or 2) it is interacting with a 3rd party on the 
user's behalf.

Two comments regarding narrow vs broad scope. First, if there is no 
interface where the user can make a choice, how can the UA send DNT? 
Peter, are you saying that under a broader scope, these UAs could send 
DNT without offering the user a choice? Second, if UAs can send DNT 
without offering a choice, and then claim that's fine because they don't 
offer a UI, then we incentivize doing so. Not only is this a poor user 
experience, but it invites anti-competitive abuses of the DNT signal.

On 4/17/13 9:50 AM, Peter Swire wrote:
> My thanks to Ed for writing this up so clearly.
> As a follow-up, let's see if the following is accurate.  My point goes 
> to advantages and disadvantages of having a broader vs. narrower set 
> of user agents that are covered by the standard, with respect to user 
> interface/user education.
> Broader scope of UAs that comply with DNT.   This includes Ed's sort 
> of examples.  There are smart objects such as bathroom scales or the 
> podcast service.  Users may want to have DNT for these objects, so 
> that their daily weight or music downloads are not tracked.  In Ed's 
> examples, the DNT interface and choices would be expressed at a web 
> site that is separate from the UA.  Presumably, full DNT functionality 
> would exist on that web site, with respect to the UA.
> Narrower scope of UAs that comply with DNT.  A narrower approach would 
> say that the bathroom scales or podcast service do not qualify for 
> DNT, because there is no user interface directly by the UA.  The idea 
> here might be that it is necessary for DNT to apply for the UA itself 
> to have the user interface built in.
> I believe that Ed is supporting the broader scope, so that user choice 
> is achieved for this broader range of UAs.
> Are there objections/concerns to this approach, so that some in the 
> group would only support the narrower scope?  What would the basis be 
> for such concerns?
> Thank you,
> Peter
> Professor Peter P. Swire
> C. William O'Neill Professor of Law
>  Ohio State University
> 240.994.4142
> From: Ed Felten <felten@CS.Princeton.EDU <mailto:felten@CS.Princeton.EDU>>
> Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 8:51 AM
> To: "< <>>" 
> < <>>
> Subject: ACTION-390: alternative UA affordances for DNT choice
> Resent-From: < <>>
> Resent-Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 8:52 AM
> Peter asked me to assemble some examples of User Agents offering 
> different types of affordances for DNT choice.
> [First, for those with less experience in web standards, let's review 
> the definition of "User Agent".   The TPE spec includes a standard 
> definition: "This specification uses the term user agent to refer to 
> any of the various client programs capable of initiating HTTP 
> requests, including, but not limited to, browsers, spiders (web-based 
> robots), command-line tools, native applications, and mobile apps 
> [HTTP11 
> <>]." 
>    HTTP requests are used for many purposes beyond loading HTML pages 
> for display in browsers.  Although we might be tempted to think of 
> "User Agent" as synonymous with "browser," there are many UAs that are 
> not browsers.]
> User Agent functionality is built into many types of consumer 
> electronics or "smart object" products, including alarm clocks, 
> pedometers, audio players, car electronics, bathroom scales, and even 
> dog collars.   (The collar reports your dog's location over time.)   
> These are not hypotheticals; they are all real products on the market. 
>   Many products of this type do no offer a rich user interface on the 
> device itself.  Instead, they offer control and interaction via a web 
> site provided separately from the product itself, which the consumer 
> accesses using their ordinary desktop browser.
> For example, a music player device might offer the ability to 
> subscribe to podcasts, with the device automatically downloading new 
> podcast episodes from subscribed-to podcasts as they become available. 
> When downloading a new podcast episode, the player device would be 
> acting as a user agent (initiating an HTTP request).  Yet the player 
> device might not offer a user interface with rich controls.  Instead, 
> the user might set up and control their podcast subscriptions via an 
> external website affiliated with the device.
> In this case, it is possible to offer the user DNT choice via the 
> external website.  But note that this choice would not be offered 
> through the user agent (the music player device) itself---and the 
> external website is not a user agent at all.  Therefore a spec that 
> required choice to be offered *directly by* the user agent would not 
> be implementable in this scenario, while one that merely required 
> clear choice *with respect to* the user agent would be implementable 
> for this type of user agent.
> Another type of UA that can't offer a direct DNT affordance to the 
> user is a service that acts asynchronously on the user's behalf.   One 
> example is Ifttt.   You tell Ifttt a "recipe" such as "rebroadcast all 
> of my Twitter tweets as Facebook wall posts" or "clip any Facebook 
> photo tagged with my name and upload it into Evernote", etc.   Then 
> Ifttt periodically accesses the various sites on your behalf to carry 
> out the recipes.  When Ifttt accesses these sites, it is acting as a 
> User Agent, but you are not present and this UA doesn't offer you a 
> direct user interface.   You can control the status of your Ifttt 
> account via an external control panel, which is not a User Agent.   
> Again, notification and choice are possible *for* the Ifttt User 
> Agent, but not *through* the User Agent itself.
> This should give an idea of some of the scenarios that can come up.   
> There are others that pose different challenges, such as command-line 
> tools, or tools that user HTTP "in the background" to update code or 
> data in an app, or code that isn't allowed to offer a rich user 
> interface for security reasons.   (A rich UI can be used, e.g., to 
> trick the user into entering a sensitive password, so some systems 
> block less-trusted code from displaying a rich or large UI.)

Received on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 14:36:36 UTC