Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 1:04 PM ET
There’s been a lot of debate over the last few years about personalization on the web. We believe that tailoring your web experience -- for example by showing you more relevant, interest-based ads, or making it easy to recommend stuff you like to friends -- is a good thing. We also believe that the best way to protect your privacy is to enable you to exercise choice through meaningful product controls. That said, given the number of different browsers and products available online today -- many of which have different privacy controls -- we recognize that it can get confusing.
So we’re pleased to sign up to today’s industry-wide agreement (you can read the details here) -- put together by the White House, the Federal Trade Commission and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which represents over 90 percent of all online advertising in the U.S -- to create a simpler, more unified approach to privacy on the web. Under this agreement, users will be able to exercise choice under the DAA Principles by setting what has been called a “Do Not Track” header straight from their browser. The DAA Principles, and therefore the header, cover some aspects of tailored advertising. But, for example, if users have requested personalization (such as by signing up for particular services) or visit websites that use “first party” cookies to personalize the overall experience (for example a news website recommending articles to its readers, or a video site remembering your volume preferences), then browsers will not break that experience. In addition, today’s agreement supports continued innovation and competition on the web, as well as important, basic web functionality -- such as malware, spam and fraud detection.
We look forward to working with our industry partners, the White House, the FTC, the DAA and all the major browsers including Google Chrome, to adopt a broadly consistent approach to these controls -- rather than the situation today where every browser sets its own defaults, policies, and exceptions. In particular, we are pleased that today’s agreement will ensure that users are given an explicit choice, and be fully informed of the available options.
This agreement will not solve all the privacy issues users face on the web today. However, it represents a meaningful step forward in privacy controls for users. We look forward to making this happen.