free html hit counter Uh oh - John Battelle's Search Blog

Uh oh

By - October 31, 2007

Watch this space, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, aw hell, everyone:

NEW YORK ( — Privacy advocates are expected to propose the creation of a do-not-track list, a sort of internet version of the Do Not Call Registry, at a news conference tomorrow.

In addition to the list, the proposal calls for a requirement that advertisers, as part of their online ads, instantaneously disclose details of what they intend to track. According to a media alert announcing the news conference, the groups behind the proposal include the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others.

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8 thoughts on “Uh oh

  1. J says:

    If this is as effective as the “DNCR” for telemarketers today, it will have little to no impact in the Internet companies behavior either.

  2. Andrew says:

    So how exactly is this registry supposed to collect enough information to uniquely identify an individual without being a huge privacy risk in and of itself? It can’t be done via IP given the number of people with dynamic IPs or those who are checking their email via the free wi-fi at the coffee shop. Sites would have to go even further in “tracking” people just to keep track of the ones they’re not supposed to track.

  3. Rob says:

    If uptake of this is anything like significant then it will break 50% of econtent businesses and further impact the consumer by removing much of the higher quality commentary, niche news and most freemium content.

    Hardest hit will be technology content vendors.

  4. Kamal Jain says:

    Andrew, such ideas are not technical they are systematical. For an example “do not call registry” can’t prevent me to pick my phone and call you. What it can do is to inform me that I should not call you for telemarketing reasons. If I do not honor your wishes then there can be consequences for me.

    If that’s what is being suggested then all you need is a method of telling the web service companies or ad-tracking companies to not track you. There is one such method and that is via blocking cookies which is useful in some cases. But blocking cookies sometimes make some services less useful. This method also does not work when you have a login with the web service company.

    So all you need is a protocol that tells a web-service company that you do not wish to be tracked. Well, in such a case the web service company may decline giving you service at all. If this is a big concern then one can propose a “non-discrimination on privacy setting” law.

    For now the deal seems to be, if you walk on the road then the road has as much right to track you as you have to track the road.

  5. Jay says:

    Why is it that the people who suggest these sort of “initiatives” are the ones with the least understanding of them?

  6. Mike Mothner says:

    I actually believe that there could be potential benefits resulting from a do-not-track list, but considering that the DNCR currently warrants much improvement, it seems a little premature to now try and implement this type of program online.

  7. Rodrigo says:

    Brave new world…. bye bye privacity….

  8. nmw says:

    Saul Hansell @ reports that Esther Dyson asked [at the Behavioral Advertising Town Hall yesterday in Washington; via Mediapost.COM]: “If I curate my profile… and if I can decide which of my friends can see which part of my profile, why can’t I do that for marketers?”

    I replied as below (see also — perhaps I overlooked to UNDERSCORE that “new information” can hardly be ruled out “before the fact” (?):


    One tidbit which might be an “issue” to consider WRT Ms. Dyson’s idea is that an advertisement is presumably (well, at least ideally) something that is “new information” (it is, perhaps, a curiosity of the present age that in order for information to be recognized today, advertisers seem to feel that the messages need to be constantly repeated in order to “sink in”).

    I feel that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have also been forwarding provocative ideas about this. Their notion of “presence” can easily be applied to any Internet/Web-enabled application such as an online game and/or website (indeed, this is also an idea that Ms. Dyson has written about exhaustively and eloquently — many years ago already). Alone the user’s presence at a certain web-location is already a “statement of interest” in that application’s informational value. Therefore: If I were to visit Google.COM, that means I am interested in the information available at Google.COM; If I visit News.COM, then that means I am interested in the information at News.COM; likewise Hotels.COM, Shopping.COM, etc. If I did not appreciate the information available at Hotels.COM, then I could perhaps switch to Hotels.ORG (or vice versa). In each case, the user can select the information he/she receives — INCLUDING the advertisers which may be promoting their products/services at any given location (I believe such “self-selection” of VIEWERSHIP/READERSHIP and/or PUBLICATION has also existed for decades — if not centuries — in “traditional” media publications, no?)