W3C Proposes a Standard for “Do Not Track”

In wake of privacy concerns, the W3C has recognized “Do Not Track” as a standard and has proposed the first bill, which lays the foundation of “Do Not Track” a.k.a DNT. This bill will prevent websites like Google and Facebook from selling user data to advertisers. While some users like to see personalized ads, others do not want any of their data to be used to serve ads. This can create a tricky situation and “Do not track” is the way to go.


This Monday, the W3C proposed the first draft of its standard for implementing DNT. The proposed bill works for both site owners and users. The  Tracking Preference Expression  or DNT is explained as:

The  DNT  header field is hereby defined as the means for expressing a user’s tracking preference via HTTP [HTTP11]. A user agent  must  send the  DNT  header field on all HTTP requests if (and only if) DNT is  enabled. A user agent  must not  send the  DNT  header field if DNT is  not enabled.

DNT-field-name   = “DNT”                                                   ; case-insensitive

DNT-field-value = ( “0” / “1” ) *DNT-extension     ; case-sensitive

DNT-extension     = %x21-2B / %x2D-7E                           ; visible ASCII except “,”

The draft will be published in the summer of 2012. A large part of this work is derived from Mozilla’s work with the DNT header.  Aleecia M. McDonald, a privacy researcher for the Mozilla Foundation is the co-chairman of the Tracking Protection working group, which is working on the DNT standard.

While the bill creates a reasonable protective barrier for privacy-concerned users, it also has the potential to hamper millions of online business that rely on advertisement revenue. In a way, this bill might break the Advertising industry at its present state. The advertising industry needs to reform itself and keep up with the bill to reach a reasonable balance between the world of publishers, consumers and advertisers.

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Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at TomsVPN.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.