We recently released a new add-on called Do Not Track Plus (DNT+) that combines some different technology approaches and standards like Do Not Track, all meant to help consumers enjoy better and easier online privacy, into one package.
Here’s the full press release: http://abine.com/news.php
Why offer one solution that supports a bunch of different ways to get online privacy?
First, there are a lot of good ideas out there.
Privacy technologies and standards are evolving and we don’t see some clear winner dominating everyone else (think back to VHS videotapes “beating Sony”). Unlike advertising companies (often the same companies that make leading Web browsers), we don’t have conflicts of interest around online privacy: there’s zero reason for us to have any “technology religion” where we push one approach as clearly good and others as bad. It’s still early, but in some ways Mozilla got it right, Microsoft got it right, Google got it right, and the Federal Trade Commission and Commerce Department are on the right track (no pun intended). It therefore makes sense that Do Not Track Plus can be a synthesis of effective approaches that empower consumers today, yet leave room for evolution and innovation tomorrow.
Second, there’s the question of timing.
Some approaches work today completely, some work today partially, and others anticipate a very different, perhaps government regulated, future. For example, Microsoft is releasing IE9 with new privacy features which they rightly point out work today for IE users: IE9 tracking protection lists actually block different groups of advertisers and tracking companies. Meanwhile, Mozilla’s implementation of the Do Not Track standard (made possible in part by a superb group of privacy researchers and advocates including Jonathan Mayer, Arvind Narayanan, and Christopher Soghoian) is a potentially more elegant and easier-to-use solution but one requiring additional buy-in in the future.
Third, avoiding confusion.
Do Not Track is simple, attractive, and understandable language. That’s good. However, it’s easy to create a false sense of privacy. By letting consumers who voice their preference for more online privacy select among different approaches easily (without having to change browsers, or try multiple tools with multiple interfaces to learn), we hope to empower and educate users who try Do Not Track Plus. They should also learn that online privacy is not just about tracking but also about keeping their email, cell phone, IP address, home address, and credit cards away from too many online databases using tools like our full PrivacySuite.
Fourth, make room for advertisers.
Advertisers need a stronger voice and say in this discussion and need to be more proactive than simply offering opt-outs. Indeed, the future is murkiest for advertisers in some ways because a regulated Do Not Track would force them to define the meaning of Do Not Track and the technical implementations could be challenging in a variety of ways. There’s no reason why sites providing good experiences to users shouldn’t be able to have a dialog with them about supporting them and their advertising partners, otherwise known as “white-listing.” We aim to prompt further discussion around is how this will actually work in practice, today.
In conclusion: As an industry, we can achieve Do Not Track in different ways, and we can do it faster.
Combining and evolving today’s set of proposed standards is technically possible. And the FTC and Commerce Department have repeatedly called for the market to innovate and self-regulate to provide consumers online privacy protection. DNT+ can accelerate such innovation and empower millions of users who feel there is too much information about their browsing habits being secretly gathered by a mix of trusted and untrusted parties. DNT+ works today to protect consumer privacy and help strengthen and define emerging privacy standards within and across multiple browsers.
Give Do Not Track Plus (DNT+) a try and let us know what you think.