Three years after CDT and other public interest groups first introduced the idea of “Do Not Track,” Microsoft and Firefox have both committed to building Do Not Track mechanisms into their browsers. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) featured Do Not Track prominently in its recent privacy report. The message is clear: Do Not Track is here to stay.
The mechanisms for implementing Do Not Track vary considerably, but the underlying principle is the same: it’s time to empower consumers to prevent the collection and correlation of data about their Internet activities across websites.
Translating this principle into practice, however, is not simple — it requires a difficult conversation about how to define “tracking.” Achieving consensus on this question would guide the development and implementation of browser-based DNT tools, would serve as the basis for educating consumers about their options, and would guide enforcement bodies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, as they consider the implications of the concept.
In order to jumpstart the necessary work of defining “tracking,” CDT has released a proposal that attempts to scope what the phrase “do not track” should and should not communicate.