W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-tracking@w3.org > September 2013

Re: DAA departing & moving forward

From: Peter Swire <peter@peterswire.net>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2013 06:16:17 -0700
To: Lou Mastria <lou@aboutads.info>, "public-tracking@w3.org (public-tracking@w3.org)" <public-tracking@w3.org>
Message-ID: <CE5DCDC1.98B67%peter@peterswire.net>

To the Working Group:

I note with sadness but not surprise the decision today by the Digital Advertising Alliance to withdraw from the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium.  In announcing their departure, they chose my actions as the most convenient excuse for leaving the process: “Unfortunately, these efforts were rejected out of hand by TPWG co-chair Peter Swire, who jettisoned the long-accepted W3C procedure in order to anoint his own way forward.”

I share the frustration in the DAA message with the inability of the Working Group to achieve better results.  I believe a fair review of the history, however, shows that the views of the DAA and its members were valued and included in months of hard work together in the Group:

(1) I met individually with the leadership of each DAAmember during the “listening tour” in late 2012, after I was named co-chair.

(2) A major part of the agenda at the February Face-to-Face, in Cambridge, was based on the DAA proposal concerning ways to limit access to a user’s lifetime browsing history.

(3) DAA proposals and language were discussed in detail during weekly teleconferences for the next several months.  Indeed, a repeated theme on the list during this period was the concern from consumer advocates that a disproportionateamount of time of the Group was being spent on DAA proposals.

(4) In the lead-up to the May Face-to-Face in California, there were intensive negotiations on what became known as the Draft Framework, which became the agenda for our three-day meeting.  The DAA was deeply enough involved in these negotiations that its General Counsel, Stu Ingis, presented the Draft Framework to the Group in one of its calls.

(5) Coming out of the May meeting, the full group, including the DAA, issued a consensus document that enough progress had been made that we should continue to work toward the long-agreed Last Call deadline of the end of July.

(6) As an effort to have one clear text that would be the focus of the Group’s efforts, we then had the summer process to create proposed language and then comments on a base text.  Among the change proposals, by far the greatest amount of time on the Group calls was devoted to the text proposed by the DAA and those associated with it.

(7) Both co-chairs, supported by W3C staff, then issued approximately 40 single-spaced pages of decision documents.  These documents contained a massive number of footnotes and citations to the comments submitted by Working Group members.  Based on the record developed by the full Group, these documents explained reasons why the June Draft would remain the base text rather than the proposal submitted by the DAA and those associated with it.  In brief, the criteria for a standard that we discussed in Cambridge, based on the overall record, would not be met by the proposal submitted by the DAA and others.

Based on this history, the DAA views were simply not rejected “out of hand.”

My own view is that the Working Group does not have a path to consensus that includes large blocs of stakeholders with views as divergent as the DAA, on the one hand, and those seeking stricter privacy rules, on the other.  I devoted my time as co-chair to trying to find creative ways to achieve consumer choice and privacy while also enabling a thriving commercial Internet.  I no longer see any workable path to a standard that will gain active support from both wings of the Working Group.

When participants don’t get the outcome they want on substance, they often blame the procedure.  As an imperfect human being, and one working within the W3C processes for the first time, I am sure that I could have done better at various points on procedure.  The actual procedure that led to the July decision came directly from my close discussions with W3C staff, and used the mechanism for resolving a disputed issue that the Working Group established and used before I became co-chair.

I intensely share the frustration that all the hard work by members of the Working Group has not created a consensus path forward.  I believe there is consensus in the Working Group that members have worked very hard, and I worked very hard, to find apath forward.  I put almost all of my other professional work on hold, at financial cost to myself, to try to find a solution on Do Not Track.

Going forward, there are cogent reasons for stakeholders to continue to work, inside and outside of W3C, to develop standards and good practices for commercial privacy on the Internet.

We knew coming in that this was a hard problem.  It remains a hard problem. The procedures at W3C this summer are not the reason that it became hard.

With best wishes to all of you,


P.S.  I expect to be generally off-line today and much of this week.

Prof. Peter P. Swire
Nancy J. and Lawrence P. Huang Professor
Law and Ethics Program
Scheller College of Business
Georgia Institute of Technology


From: Lou Mastria <lou@aboutads.info<mailto:lou@aboutads.info>>
Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 5:17 AM
To: Jaffe Jeff <jeff@w3.org<mailto:jeff@w3.org>>, "public-tracking@w3.org<mailto:public-tracking@w3.org> (public-tracking@w3.org<mailto:public-tracking@w3.org>)" <public-tracking@w3.org<mailto:public-tracking@w3.org>>
Subject: DAA departing & moving forward
Resent-From: <public-tracking@w3.org<mailto:public-tracking@w3.org>>
Resent-Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 5:17 AM

Dear Mr. Jaffe:

After serious consideration, the leadership of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) has agreed that the DAA will withdraw from future participation in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG).  After more than two years of good-faith effort and having contributed significant resources, the DAA no longer believes that the TPWG is capable of fostering the development of a workable “do not track” (“dnt”) solution. As we depart W3C and TPWG, DAA will focus its resources on convening its own forum to evaluate how browser-based signals can be used meaningfully to address consumer privacy.

During more than two years since the W3C began its attempt at a dnt standard, the DAA has delivered real tools to millions of consumers. It has grown participation; enhanced transparency with more than a trillion ad impressions per month delivered with the DAA’s Icon making notice and choice information available within one-click of the ad; educated millions of consumers and provided browser-based persistent plug ins.<http://www.aboutads.info/PMC>  The DAA has also succeeded in applying its principles to all of the participants in the digital ecosystem.  Furthermore, we have expanded these consumer safeguards into 30 countries and clarified how the DAA’s Principles apply in the mobile Web and app environments.

Going forward, the DAA intends to focus its time and efforts on growing this already-successful consumer choice program in “desktop,” mobile and in-app environments. The DAA is confident that such efforts will yield greater advances in consumer privacy and industry self-regulation than would its continued participation at the W3C.
Despite extension after extension of its charter year after year by the W3C, the TPWG has yet to reach agreement on the most elementary and material issues facing the group.  These open items include fundamental issues and key definitions that have been discussed by this group since its inception without reaching consensus, including:

·         Defining a harm or problem it seeks to prevent.

·         Defining the term “tracking”.

·         Identifying limitations on the use of unique identifiers.

·         Determining the effect of user choice.

Concerned about the TPWG’s inability to resolve such basic issues, the DAA wrote a letter to you on October 2, 2012<http://www.aboutads.info/blog/press-release-daa-issues-open-letter-w3c-actions-working-group-threaten-ad-supported-internet>, expressing its strong concern with the W3C’s foray into setting public policy standards.  In particular, the letter noted that the W3C “has been designed to build consensus around complex technology issues, not complex public policy matters.” In response, despite the turmoil evident at that time, you personally assured us that appropriate procedures and policies would be applied to the process and the W3C’s retention of Professor Swire would settle and bring legitimacy to the process.

In the ensuing eight months that led up to the July 2013 deadline imposed on the TPWG, the DAA worked in good faith with other stakeholders, supporting proposals consistent with recommendations from the U.S. Administration and the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Unfortunately, these efforts were rejected out of hand by TPWG co-chair Peter Swire, who jettisoned the long-accepted W3C procedure in order to anoint his own path forward.  As others in the working group have substantiated, as a result of Swire’s actions there is no longer a legitimate TPWG procedure.  Jonathan Mayer, commenting on the working process<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-tracking/2013Jul/0601.html>, stated, “We do not have clear rules of decision.  And even if we were to have procedural commitments, they could be unilaterally cast aside at any time. This is not process: this is the absence of process.” Roy T. Fielding, Senior Principal Scientist at Adobe, highlighted the dictatorial approach taken by chairs<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-tracking/2013Jul/0464.html> who have eschewed participant input and subrogated participants’ right to vote on issues.

In recent weeks, you have indicated to TPWG participants that you have no intent to revisit acts or processes (or the lack thereof) that occurred leading up to July 2013, and instead plan to move forward.  However, it is not possible to move forward without an accounting for the previous flagrant disregard for procedure.

Today, parties on all sides agree that the TPWG is not a sensible use of W3C resources and that the process will not lead to a workable result.  For example, Jonathan Mayer, in his recent letter of resignation from the TPWG, stated<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-tracking/2013Jul/0601.html>: “Given the lack of a viable path to consensus, I can no longer justify the substantial time, travel, and effort associated with continuing in the Working Group.” John Simpson, the director of the Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project, commented on the news of the departure of TPWG co-chairman Professor Swire<http://www.law360.com/privacy/articles/468512?nl_pk=0c277e2d-1bd7-44e8-80c2-e6cfa8deb42a&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=privacy>: “Peter Swire gave it a good shot, but I don’t think that he or anybody can get this group to a general consensus.” These participants and others who previously supported the TPWG now conclude that the process has devolved into an exercise in frustration on all sides without any meaningful increase in consumer choice or transparency.

The DAA agrees with these parties on this matter. Therefore, rather than continue to work in a forum that has failed, we intend to commit our resources and time in participating in efforts that can achieve results while enhancing the consumer digital experience. The DAA will immediately convene a process to evaluate how browser-based signals can be used to meaningfully address consumer privacy. The DAA looks forward to working with browsers, consumer groups, advertisers, marketers, agencies, and technologists. This DAA-led process will be a more practical use of our resources than to continue to participate at the W3C.

With the departure of the latest TPWG co-chair as well as a key staff member, and no definitive process to move forward, the DAA recommends that that the W3C should not attempt to resurrect a process that has clearly reached the end of its useful life.

The DAA will continue to move forward in its own area of expertise, advancing consumer control, transparency, and other critical practices through its own program.


Lou Mastria
P:+1 347 770 0322
E: Lou@AboutAds.info<mailto:Lou@AboutAds.info>
Twitter: @lmastria / @daausa

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Received on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 13:16:53 UTC

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