Online Tracking, Consumer Protection, and Web Standards

September 9th, 2011

Today, the W3C announced the creation of a Tracking Protection Working Group to work on defining what tracking is, signaling user intent, and tracking protection lists. The W3C’s action here can help protect consumers from unwanted tracking. We welcome the opportunity to work with the industry and governments on a Web standard based on our earlier work.

The Tracking Protection feature in IE9 provides a way for consumers to benefit today by restricting which sites on the Web get information from them.

The W3C accepted and published Microsoft’s member submission for an Internet standard to help protect consumer privacy last February. IE9 supports the “Do-Not-Track” header/DOM property and Tracking Protection Lists outlined in that W3C submission. The W3C noted that the submission was “…both timely and well-aligned with the consortium’s objectives and priorities” and announced a workshop at Princeton University to continue standardisation work for Web privacy and tracking protection. Microsoft presented two papers at the workshop in April.  The workshop report summarises the two days of passionate discussions with nearly a hundred participants from academia, government, advertising companies, browser vendors and major Web sites.

In the months since the workshop, the W3C has continued to discuss the best way to structure this work with the various stakeholders. As Dean noted last December, defining what the Do-Not-Track signal means and what to do with it is an important part of completing this work. We are looking forward to working with the Web community on this important initiative at the W3C.

—Adrian Bateman, Program Manager, Internet Explorer