/// Rockefeller Goes On a Do Not Track Rant in Hearing

April 24, 2013  |  Media Week

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) started and ended the Do Not Track hearing off with a rant, one that anyone who attended the commerce chairman’s previous seven privacy hearings knows all too well. Rockefeller just doesn’t “believe” that the advertising industry will self-regulate when it comes to giving consumers the choice to opt out of interest-based advertising. And no one, either on the witness stand or on the committee, was going to change his mind. Most of the hearing centered on Rockefeller’s accusation that advertisers went back on their promise, made in February 2012, to honor a universal Do Not Track solution in browsers by the end of 2012. “It is now April 2013, and consumers are still waiting for these Do Not Track standards. Advertisers are continuing to ignore Do Not Track headers and consumers’ requests for privacy,” said Rockefeller, referring to Microsoft and Mozilla browsers. “I am disturbed with the rhetoric from advertisers that suggests they might try to circumvent the sensible privacy protections that web browsers are providing consumers.” Even though Rockefeller said he wanted to keep his mind open, he made it clear that he would be willing to cut off witnesses who resorted to rhetoric: “I do not want to hear familiar talking points that serve no purpose but to confuse the debate.” Other committee members tried to bring up other topics surrounding the privacy debate, but didn’t get very far. Ranking member Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) both tried, unsuccessfully, to steer the debate to a discussion of harm from online behavioral advertising. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) questioned why the stakeholders in the privacy debate were trying to work out policy differences in the World Wide Web Consortium, which meets again next month on privacy. But no matter what the questions or the answers from the witnesses, this hearing was about Rockefeller’s position that consumers are being harmed without a Do Not Track standard, and that advertisers were holding it up in the W3C meeting. Lou Mastria, the Digital Advertising Alliance’s managing director, tried to reassure Rockefeller. “We made an agreement at the White House to include browser-based choices as a complement to our system. We want everyone to abide by that. We think that’s fair,” Mastria said

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Rockefeller Goes On a Do Not Track Rant in Hearing


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