This interview in Clickz with Edward Felten, the FTC’s technology leader, clarifies a number of important points that are often muddled in the debate about consumer tracking preferences and privacy.
Here are five top takeaways from the interview:
No one’s talking about messing with content personalization on your favorite sites.
“The system as currently envisioned would not apply to ordinary first party tracking or to a first party’s use of a service provider for website analytics, assuming the service provider makes no additional use of the collected data.”
The current framework fails because it doesn’t actually block tracking.
“Users whose concerns are about tracking itself, or about non-advertising uses of tracking data, will not have their concerns addressed by such a system; and users who do not read the documentation carefully might not realize that the lack of behavioral ads does not mean that tracking has stopped.”
Tracking can be defined (and it doesn’t include analytics).
“As long as these service providers do not use collected data for other purposes, such as combining it with data about the user’s behavior on other websites, these uses would still be acceptable.”
Do-not-track is about value-exchange.
“If the value exchange were made clear to users – some collection and tracking of their web browsing behavior supports the content provided – many users might very well continue to allow the tracking and targeting to occur.”
Tracking on mobile devices is an unsolved problem.
“The discussion about tracking is most fully developed in the web setting, so it could make sense to offer a consumer choice mechanism in the web setting first, while continuing to evaluate the situation in other settings.”