Lawmakers send letter as W3C group asks for comments on proposed ‘Do Not Track’ technology


Washington (October 7, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), and Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) today sent a letter to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) expressing concern that its proposed “Do Not Track” standard applies differently to “first parties,” companies that directly face consumers, than to “third parties,” those that facilitate the advertisements displayed online. The W3C is the international organization comprised of member groups from around the world who are working together to develop Internet standards. Under the proposed W3C standard, first parties are free to continue tracking online activity even if a user activates the “Do Not Track” signal and can share that information among its many affiliates. Third parties, on the other hand, must respect user preference and stop tracking. This distinction gives certain companies, including those that operate as both first and third party businesses, an exemption from what could serve as an important consumer protection and an unfair advantage over companies that better honor consumer rights and expectations.


“The ‘Do Not Track’ standard should empower consumers to stop unwanted collection and use of their personal data.  At the same time, the standard should not permit certain companies to evade important consumer protections and engage in anti-competitive practices,” write the lawmakers in the letter. “We call on the W3C to reexamine its proposal to ensure online companies fulfill user expectations while at the same time encouraging, not limiting, the competitive online marketplace.” 


A copy of the letter to the W3C can be found HERE.