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DAA Exits W3C Do Not Track Working Group

The Digital Advertising Alliance has withdrawn from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Tracking Protection Working Group, according to a copy of the letter to W3C from DAA, but some other online ad association members of the DAA board say they are sticking with it.

The W3C working group has been trying to come up with a voluntary browser-based do not track regime.

According to the letter, DAA Managing Director Lou Mastria says that his group no longer believes the working group is capable of "fostering the development of a workable "do not track" ("dnt") solution."

Mastria says that DAA will continue to work on such a solution via its own forum. DAA has its own icon-based "notice and choice" system for opting out of tracking and Mastria says DAA will focus on expanding that. "Going forward, the DAA intends to focus its time and efforts on growing this already-successful consumer choice program in 'desktop,' mobile and in-app environments," he wrote. "The DAA is confident that such efforts will yield greater advances in consumer privacy and industry self-regulation than would its continued participation at the W3C."

DAA has long been troubled by independent browser efforts to make do not track a default setting.

While DAA is out of the working group, representatives of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the National Advertising Initiative (NAI) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), all DAA board members, indicated they would continue to be a part of the working group, according to copies of letters provided to B&C.

But a source familiar with the DAA move suggested that was far from full-throated support. “They are going to keep an eye on things for now,” said the source, “but have no belief that W3C can or will achieve anything,”

The Obama Administration has pushed for a do-not-track regime as part of its proposed online privacy "bill of rights," and would prefer that there be legislation to enshrine those principles in law. But absent that, which would be a tough slog in this divided Congress, it has sought voluntary commitments to that and other privacy protections, to mixed reviews about the efficacy or success of such efforts.

In March, Sen. Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) reintroduced legislation in March that would require companies who collect personal information online to get the affirmative permission of the person whose information is being collected.