Last week was a big week for “Do Not Track” (DNT) developments:

  1. Google officially joined company with a coalition of big internet players for voluntary controls on Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA). The controls take the form of an industry spanning self-regulatory program, backed by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), that aims to provide a consistent and clear approach to OBA. The Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) have agreed to monitor participants and enforce compliance.
  2. Google announced that it will add support for DNT to its Chrome browser by the end of the year, joining Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9, which all already support DNT.
  3. The White House unveiled a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” and has called on Congress to pass legislation that applies the Bill of Rights to commercial sectors that are not subject to existing US Federal privacy laws. The Bill of Rights sets out voluntary guidelines for Web companies and is part of a blueprint to improve consumers’ privacy protections. Among other things, the Bill of Rights aims to give consumers more control to limit the collection of their personal data. The Commerce Department will now commence a series of meetings with different stakeholders to build enforceable policies. The Bill of Rights does not have a specific DNT component, and in a news briefing last Wednesday, the White House referred to industry action on DNT as a positive step.

Going forward however, as is the case north of the border, the question will continue to be whether DNT self-regulation will be seen as providing a complete solution for consumer privacy, or whether (and, if so, when) the government will turn to codification.