Success or failure of the W3C’s DNT working group?

By EDRi · February 12, 2014

On 21 January 2014 MEPs Amelia Andersdottir (Greens/EFA) and Françoise
Castex (S+D) organised a panel with the title “Do Not Track – Is
Self-Regulation Enough?” with among others Robert Madelin (DG-CONNECT)
and François Dubois (DG-JUST) on the panel.

The discussion concentrated mainly on the perceived success or failure
of the W3C’s DNT working group on formulating a self-regulatory approach
to allowing users on the world wide web to express their preferences to
be tracked online or not.

EDRi had been invited to do an intervention during the panel and our
main question was to Robert Madelin to formulate criteria for success or
failure of the W3C effort and under which circumstances DG-CONNECT would
consider it appropriate to stop waiting for the W3C and to take action

Robert Madelin did not provide any clarity on this subject and during
the subsequent panel discussion it became painfully clear that due to
the fact that the e-Privacy Directive has made enforcement telecoms
regulators’ competence, the DPAs are very reluctant to take action on
the ongoing practice of extensive profiling of web usage across wildly
different contexts for the purpose of Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA).

This unfortunate fragmentation of responsibilities contributes to what
the Centre for Democracy and Technology accurately described as
“regulatory forebearance” during its intervention. As such we would
prefer the DPAs to be slightly less sensitive to clashes of authority
and to start enforcing the data protection side of this issue.

The W3C process is unlikely to result in more than a technical
specification in the short term and has been ongoing for two years already.

It is time for action in this too long neglected field.

Recorded stream of the event (21.01.2014)

(Contribution by Walter van Holst – EDRi member Vrijschrift – Netherlands)