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Consumer Groups Advocate for 'Do Not Track' Registry 146

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-nice-to-dream dept.
eldavojohn writes "Consumer groups are asking for a 'do not track' registry to be implemented, similar to the successful and popular 'do not call' registry. Tracking companies are asking for examples where tracking has caused harm, and would rather the industry stay self-regulated. 'In December, the FTC approved Google's purchase of advertising rival DoubleClick over the objections of some privacy groups. At the same time, the agency urged advertisers to let computer users bar advertisers from collecting information on them, to provide "reasonable security" for any data and to collect data on health conditions or other sensitive issues only with the consumer's express consent.'"
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Consumer Groups Advocate for 'Do Not Track' Registry

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  • by Otis2222222 (581406) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:58PM (#23094922) Homepage
    Do Not Call, Do Not E-mail, and now Do Not Track?

    Something I really don't understand here is why ANY reasonable person would not opt-out of any of these systems? (Granted, only the first one is actually coded into law) And how do you enforce them for companies based outside the USA? And for that matter, what's to stop companies from outsourcing their tracking offshore to skirt the laws?

    Where is the"your post advocates a..." for this?
    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:06PM (#23095020)
      "What's with all these registries?"

      Yeah. Why not just create a "leave me the fsck alone" registry and be done with it.
      • by beckerist (985855) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @04:59PM (#23096216) Homepage
        Just what I want. A database with my personal information that people can access to see if the personal information they already have should be used... How would this be policed world wide? What would stop someone who is already breaking 500 laws from ripping THAT info and using it? At the very least they would have to provide SOME sort of validation, and that alone scares me.
        • Exactly. Plus, your IP is tracked everywhere. In order for this to work, ISPs would have to maintain some centralized repository of IPs and who these IPs belong to, which would be accessible to everyone with a web site (so they could at least see what not to keep track of). Not only would this be extremely difficult to maintain, it would create a privacy nightmare. And that's just IPs. Then you'd have to prevent cookies (which you can just disable if your a paranoid whacko). Then your MAC address. An
        • by rewinn (647614)

          No solution is perfect. That's life.

          Do-not-bug-me laws help businesses that respect them to have an advantage over lawbreakers. This is especially important with larger firms, since investors will want to know whether a company has a do-not-break-laws policy.

          A do-not-bug-me database does not have to have a lot of personal information in it.

      • by gnuman99 (746007)
        I'm making one. Just post your name, phone number, your mother's maiden name and your SSN number and name of your first born. This information will be used strictly to leave you alone.

        Thanks!
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:08PM (#23095054)
      You're going to see the ads anyway, why not see ads targeted towards products you're interested in?

      I don't care if Google knows what websites I visit. Oooo! A single 29-year-old male goes to porn sites!! How EEEEEVIL of Google to know this!
      • I use adblock and filterset.g. Even when there are ads on the page, I tune them out. When I want to purchase something, I research it. I don't need to have it shoved in my face. Advertising and marketing are a complete waste of human energy at best, evil mind control black magic at worst. I don't want to watch chickens being sacrificed to dark gods, I don't inject raw sewage straight into my brain, and I don't look at advertising.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by matang (731781)
          they're also the reason that most of the internet is free. have fun paying 50c per search to use google.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by bishiraver (707931)
            Mod parent up.

            If it weren't for interbutts advertising, all you'd find on the intertubes would be dry research material and 'HI THIS IS LARUENS [sic] HOMEPAGE AND HERE IS MY CAT PICTURES! HI THERE!@!! SIGN MAH GUEST BOOK~~~ MUAH~~~' type pages. Replete with spinning kitty paw gifs. And probably a few <marquee> tags.

            We would not have rich internet news. Social news (e.g. digg and slashdot) wouldn't be viable. And forget free porn (outside of irc chatrooms run out of a basement in bulgaria to find
            • by rtb61 (674572)
              So where are the limits. What becomes far to much advertising. I have no problem about being 'informed' about a product. I do have problems with product exaggerations, product deceit, psychological manipulation and invasive product marketing. There is a world of difference between informing people about product and creating full psychological profiles of them so that they buying choices can be more effectively manipulated.

              Can we all say what industry self regulation is all about;

              1) How to maximise profit

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by willfe (6537)
              Heh, so if advertising were eliminated, the Internet would contain only research, reference materials, and personal/individual home pages? Like it was intended to be in the first place?

              I fail to see the problem...
        • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:30PM (#23095334)
          Gruh, I should have specifically said "no 'I use AdBlock' responses." Yes, we get it, a lot of Slashdot readers use AdBlock. I understand this. I've read the snarky "the web has ads? I use AdBlock so I don't see them" about 50,000 times this month alone! Yes, I know it exists. Yes, I know people use it. Yes, I choose not to as a way of supporting the sites I visit. No, you won't convince me to download it.

          Sorry, those posts are irritating as hell. Please try to respond with original thoughts. Thank you.
          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Sounds like you need to create an AdBlockBlock extension that blocks people stroking their ego about AdBlock.
          • by spun (1352)
            I don't give a rat's ass if you download AdBlock or not. You said, "You're going to see the ads anyway, why not see ads targeted towards products you're interested in?" and I responded that I don't want to see ads, targeted or not, and that marketing and advertising are an evil waste of human talent and energy.

            AdBlock just happens to be one method I use so I don't have to see ads. I mention it in passing, and you start frothing at the mouth and accusing me of being unoriginal. As if saying, "Hey, targeted a
            • > That's all advertising is.
              Ya know, I can't think of anything said with "That's all _x_ is" that is actually true.

              There are actually some positive and helpful sides to advertising at least in my experience as a customer.
              It's sometimes nice to know about the new services at that hospital they just built... or "I'm hungry but I don't know what sounds good tonight... ooh let's get THAT. (or conversely, no, definitely not THAT, but that gives me an idea)... or to find out about some show that looks interest
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kelbear (870538)
            Further to the above, I use a middle-road approach. I have AdBlock installed but I don't have any filters added. I'm fine with seeing ads, it's revenue for the sites I visit if they serve up something of interest to me. When an ad bugs me, I just selectively block it.

          • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @04:45PM (#23096060)
            Sorry, those posts are irritating as hell. Please try to respond with original thoughts. Thank you.

            Were you saying something? I use DoucheBlock, so I don't see these things.
        • by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:43PM (#23095440) Journal
          Advertising and marketing are a complete waste of human energy at best, evil mind control black magic at worst.

          Advertising in Most first world countries is anti-happiness. As explained by Professor Richard Layard: [abc.net.au]

          "once people's basic economic needs are met additional income and wealth contributes little to an individual's happiness. What's more a society which encourages a focus on the self and its wants, and heightened individualism, tends to undermine the very things which psychological research now shows are crucial to feelings of happiness: close personal relationships, trust, and security. On top of this consumerism, advertising and the effects of the mass media heightens human beings' natural interest in 'status' and social comparisions. This means that in contemporary society people's lives are overly concerned with work, money, and how they are doing in 'the rat race'. Such a life focus is not intrinsically satisfying and so we have the prosperity paradox that for all the increased wealth in modern society people do not feel happier. [centreforc...ence.co.uk]

          • by spun (1352)
            Thanks for posting that, it encapsulates my feelings about advertising quite succinctly.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          When I want to purchase something, I research it...Advertising and marketing are a complete waste of human energy at best...

          You're a fool if you think that in general, advertising is not valuable to both the buyer and the seller. That is how buyers find sellers. You couldn't even begin researching your purchase if there wasn't some form of advertising letting you know what options are out there.

          The problem isn't that ads exist, it's that they need to be more relevant when they're displayed. Google seems to be making this their mission and for that reason, and right now I'm happy to let them track what websites I look at a

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spun (1352)
            What utter bullshit. I read reviews, listen to friends, read, and research. I have never seen a ad and thought, "Wow, I NEED that even though I've never heard of it before."

            When I want something, I will seek it out. I'm not a sheep, I don't need to be led to pasture and shown where to graze. I don't need people telling me what I should want.

            When I want something, I'll ask, thanks, so shut the fuck up, I don't want to hear what you have for sale.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by schnikies79 (788746)
              The research wouldn't be there in the first place if it wasn't for some type of marketing. Your friends will never have heard of it and no one will know it exist. I could make the greatest widget in the world and never sell a single one if I didn't let it be known that I am producing it. Marketing =/= ads, it includes ads.

              If a company doesn't tell what they produce, the public doesn't know it's there.
            • You're deceiving yourself in thinking that you don't see advertisements thanks to AdBlock. So you thought that reviews, friends networks, newspapers and "research sources" don't include advertising? Because it's not flashy and contained in a 125x600 banner doesn't mean it's not being marketed. Actually, face-to-face advertising is regarded as one of the raising trends in marketing, specially through the 'net.

              So I find the original post's "You're going to see the ads anyway, why not see ads targeted towards
      • by jlarocco (851450)

        Except if you're doing it right, you're not going to see ads.

        I do agree with your point, however. The fact that I don't see the ads is the exact reason this list is unnecessary. The government shouldn't be "helping out" when the people can do it themselves.

      • by Hatta (162192)
        Ads targeted towards me are more likely to affect my behavior. Since advertising is largely based on emotional manipulation and deception, it's bound to affect my behavior negatively. When I start to research a product I might want to buy, I don't want to have any preconceptions formed by marketing, so that's why I don't want to see targeted ads. Basically, I'd rather see noise than lies.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by AuMatar (183847)
        The web has ads? I haven't seen one in years.

        Ignoring that- no I don't want to have more targeted ads. Its an invasion of my privacy- I did not give them permission to stalk me. I'm not going to buy their product regaurdless- I don't make impulse purchases. The last time I bought something I wasn't planning on a month in advanced (or wasn't an emergency replacement- like a light bulb burning out) was a good year or two ago.

        Its also counterproductive for them- if I see a television, radio, print or
        • That's an awful lot of work for a negligible effect. I thought I had a hard time deciding what toothpaste to buy - with your system I'd need to have a list of verboten brands with me to even start to figure it out.
      • You're going to see the ads anyway, why not see ads targeted towards products you're interested in? It's one thing to see targeted ads. It's another if companies keep data on you, virtually forever. Disk space is basically free, but years worth of demographic data is incredibly valuable. I have no problem with Google serving context ads to me, but I have a big problem if information about every website I've visted in the last 5 years is only a subpeona away from anybody out to embarass me or drag my nam
      • by vertinox (846076)
        I don't care if Google knows what websites I visit. Oooo! A single 29-year-old male goes to porn sites!! How EEEEEVIL of Google to know this!

        What if visiting porn sites became illegal or the information was used by uptight employers to fire you?

        Personally, I'm not so concerned about Google tracking me, but I'm concerned who they give it to even if what I do now is perfectly legal.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          Yeah and what is giant invisible birds from Venus land in UFOs and raid Google headquarters to find eyeballs to peck out!

          Let's worry about actual problems, please. If porn were to become illegal, the US would have MUCH bigger problems than Google knowing what sites you like. And if uptight employers fire me, that's their right-- again it would be a much bigger problem if they weren't allowed to.
      • A single 29-year-old male goes to porn sites!

        And that one 29-year old must keep them all in business, while the rest of us go to Usenet for our fix.

      • You're going to see the ads anyway, why not see ads targeted towards products you're interested in?

        How do they know? I'm interested in most things, and I don't want to be limited to what I've seen before.

        I hate having people put me in a box, demographic or otherwise. It denies me an essential view of things I've not encountered before. I'd rather be reincarnated as a lawyer before I'd ever stoop to behaving like some economist wants me to.

        Two economists walk past a Porsche dealer. One says "I'd really like to have one of those new Boxters." The other one looks at him and replies "Obviously not."

        If

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          Two economists walk past a Porsche dealer. One says "I'd really like to have one of those new Boxters." The other one looks at him and replies "Obviously not."

          Ok, I've run your "joke" past three people now, and none of them have any clue what the sam hill you're talking about.

          If you get that joke, I suggest you move to Facebook.

          First of all, Facebook is a website... how would I go about "moving" to it? Secondly, I don't get that joke despite already having a Facebook account (if that's what 'move to Faceboo
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            The joke came originally from one of David Friedman's books on economics. It was there to illustrate the difference between people's stated desires, versus evidence of their desires as described by statistics covering what people actually bought. Economists are notorious for this narrow view. +1 to you for not getting the joke, -1 for me for explaining it.

            By "moving to Facebook" I was inferring that economists are better off polishing their social interaction skills by attending to that website rather th

    • by Spad (470073)
      Because if they were Opt-In then nobody would ever do so.
      • It's true that opt-out and opt-in lead to very different solutions. But opt-out gets expensive when a lot of people do it; the companies have to actually go through and process each opt-out request.

        Plenty enough of people are opting out through services allowing individuals to see what information the big data brokers have on them, and to delete some of it, but not all data can be removed that way. They call it a "global do not call list [reputationdefender.com]". keeping with the FTC's US phone do not call registry [donotcall.gov]. If enough p
    • by zermous (1196831)
      Because the tracking costs me practically zero and helps bolster the house of cards which is the ad-supported internet.
      I assure you whatever wisps of promise of hypothetical costs to me of tracking are overwhelmed by the benefits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jonaskoelker (922170)

      Where is the "your post advocates a..." for this?

      Right here! Although I haven't worked hard on the s/spam/tracking/ bit. Off we go:

      Your article advocates a

      (X) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

      approach to fighting tracking. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work.
      (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may
      have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal
      law was passed.)

      (X) Trackers can easily use it to harvest identities
      ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate ema

    • by jesterzog (189797)

      And how do you enforce them for companies based outside the USA?

      As someone who lives outside the USA, I'm at least as concerned about how to enforce USA-based companies from tracking and annoying me.

    • Well, if you ask me, Do Not Call, Do Not E-mail, and Do Not Track registrations are an excellent way to identify suspicious individuals who are trying to hide something.

      I would imagine that most US law enforcement agencies and secret police organisations are keenly interested in harvesting the details of these individuals in these conveniently located registries. I imagine they already do so.

      I think the next logical step is to require fingerprinting for the criminals, err, suspects that sign up to these l
  • Nice Try (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @02:59PM (#23094940)
    something like this would be impossible to enforce, and the data collection is almost always transparent to the user.

    but if you really dont want to be tracked, just turn off your cookies! (although there are ways to track without using them)
    • Re:Nice Try (Score:4, Interesting)

      by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:06PM (#23095022)

      just turn off your cookies!

      Ignoring for a moment the other ways to track me, I rather like being semi-permanently logged in to /. and a host of other sites. When I'm buying something, I don't want to have to go manually unblock the site so it can store my shopping cart data.

      Does anyone know of a way to only block the "evil" cookies? I'd love something that blocked the tracking cookies, let the shopping cart ones through, and didn't require me to figure out which was which for each and every cookie.

      • I keep my HOSTS file updated to prevent any connections with known tracking sites. How much good does this do for me, and what are its shortcomings?
      • by AuMatar (183847)
        I set my browser (I still use Seamonkey, in part because I don't think Firefox has this feature) to ask me on every cookie the first time. I then decide by domain what I want to do. A login cookie I'll accept permanently. If I don't know what the domain is, I block it permanently. It works about 99.9% of the time.
      • Does anyone know of a way to only block the "evil" cookies? I'd love something that blocked the tracking cookies, let the shopping cart ones through, and didn't require me to figure out which was which for each and every cookie.

        It won't eliminate tracking entirely, but my answer was to accept cookies from all sites, just for the duration of the session. Sites like Slashdot where I maintain an account have an exception in my Firefox cookie preferences which allows them to store cookies indefinitely. Shop

      • by CSMatt (1175471)
        Keep the "good" sites in a whitelist. Unlock them once and they remain unblocked for eternity. Block everything else. You can also just allow all session cookies. In my experience this works just fine with a lot of shopping sites.

        The vast majority of sites don't need cookies, yet many place them anyway. I've been whitelisting my cookies for a while now and not having any major problems.
      • A nice compromise is what I use: first thing I do when I set up a new Firefox install is "Accept cookies: until I close Firefox" and then put in exceptions for, say, slashdot.org and ubuntuforums.org to "allow". That way, as soon as I close Firefox, all the tracking cookies go away, but my "keep me logged in" cookies stay.

        So yes, I'm still being tracked per-session, but not across sessions - except for my nearly-static-IP Comcast connection's IP address, I suppose.
      • Does anyone know of a way to only block the "evil" cookies? I'd love something that blocked the tracking cookies, let the shopping cart ones through, and didn't require me to figure out which was which for each and every cookie.

        Yes.

        CookieSafe Lite [mozilla.org] for Firefox.

        It lets you block/enable cookies by site.
        It also has a block-list subscription facility similar to adblock subscriptions.
        I don't know how well the subscription facility works, but I do pretty well blocking everything and then enabling things on a case by case basis.

      • If you use firefox, you can block third party cookies. Close to 100% of the "evil" cookies are third party cookies. And third party cookies are never used for legitimate purposes (not that I've seen).

        Just set this key:

        "network.cookie.cookieBehavior" 1

        Sites can get around this by doing a trick with frames. However, in practice, they never do this, and this technique works nearly 100%, and has no inconveniences beyond setting the key once.
  • Is that still around? You couldn't tell by the number of "your warranty is about to expire" and "notice about your credit card" automated calls I get every day one both the landline and the cell phone.

    Those calls may theoretically be illegal, but the laws aren't enforced.

    • by AuMatar (183847)
      You're the exception, I haven't had a sales call in years. You may want to actually start reporting abuses.
  • by rtobyr (846578) <toby AT richards DOT net> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:07PM (#23095034) Homepage
    Oh yeah... where do I sign up for the "Do Not Spam" registry?
    • Right next to that nice Nigerian fellow. Don't worry, they won't take that list of verified email addresses and spam them; that would be illegal!
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Just email me, of course. While we're signing you up for the registry, I have some important matter to discuss to you about my uncle who live in Nigeria. He is being a wealthy prince and we need your help please.
    • by CSMatt (1175471)
      No need. Spam can easily be fought at the ISP level by having the mail server bounce back all spam e-mails. If enough ISPs do this it will flood the spammer's inbox, or at least convince the spammer that the address doesn't exist and isn't worth soliticing. Problem solved.

      Of course, there is the problem with false positives, so the server would have to bounce back the e-mail but still send it to the subscriber's spam box. If the e-mail is legitimate the subscriber can submit that address and the ISP wil
  • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:09PM (#23095058)
    What a great concept - for trackers: You individually register and have
    to stay identifiable during all your browsing so trackers know it is you.
    You allow them to track you so they stop tracking you.

    Soundy like a great idea?

    Yeah, to me neither.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gfogus (1087935)
      Easy solution:

      1. All persons shall, by default, non-tracked persons.
      2. Any person may request to be on the "tracked" list.

      This goes for phone marketers and spammers.

      Would you like to sign up to be tracked or spammed? Be my guest.

      (This can be solved through technology. I'm working on it.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by groschke (1095723)
      Its poorly named. At least as proposed las year, it actually required the TRACKERS to register. So that you can easily opt out by downloading the list of trackers. See: http://infoadvocate.org/blog/2007/11/04/do-not-track-lists-and-registries/ [infoadvocate.org]
    • Exactly. Next up: A "Don't put me into a registry" registry.
    • A "Do Not Track" registry is an especially dumb idea. Aside from the obvious ideological inconsistency -- registering yourself with every advertiser so they know not to track you, there's also the fact that most people dislike ads because they are irrelevant to what they're looking for (i.e. not targeted). "I don't care how much you think I can lower my mortgage -- I already have a good rate."

      Instead, why not have a law that says you can collect and track all you want, but you can't resell that info? I t
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:10PM (#23095080) Homepage

    I'm probably not fully understanding, but how do you track people, but allow someone to "opt out". What I mean is, let's say you don't want DoubleClick to track you. So for them to abide by a "do not track" list, they need to set up some kind of identifier so that, when you visit a site where they would normally track you, they recognize it's you and stop tracking you. But that means you'd have to send them that identifier in every instance where they would track you, and they'd end up having to track you to make sure they don't track you.

    I suppose they could just not store the collecting information, though. And no, I didn't RTFA.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:13PM (#23095118) Journal
      "I'm against picketing but I don't know how to show it" -Mitch Hedberg
    • huzza! for self regulating market. instead of not being tracked, now we need to be tracked... to be not tracked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      They have a "opt-out" cookie value.

      http://www.doubleclick.com/privacy/dart_adserving.aspx [doubleclick.com]

      The catch being that if you do clear your cookies, you'll have to re-set the opt out cookie as well.

      If you care, here's the URL to opt-out of the other big ad network:

      http://www.atlassolutions.com/optout.aspx [atlassolutions.com]

      I don't have all of them, but Doubleclick and Atlas cover something like 75-80% of the market.
      • The problem with opting out of tracking without blocking advertising is also this: You're likely to see the same advert many times in a row, because the tracking mechanisms also interact with the ad serving (as outlined in the doubleclick reference above). These interactions limit how often you see ads based on the advertiser's settings - they know that if you see their advert too many times in a row / too often, it will generate an adverse reaction to their product/service/company.
  • by kickmyassman (1199237) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:12PM (#23095098) Homepage
    Get firefox, Noscript, and adblock plus. Block all the tracking websites! I have "google-analitics.com" (it's frightening how many websites have this embedded, even those without ads) "googlesyndication" "doubleclick" and lots of other on my "untrusted" list. Makes me 20% less paranoid.
    • Is it a pretty effective solution?

      I have all that installed along with an ABP filterset subscription, but other than me manually blocking Google analytics and syndication as untrusted, how effective is trusting those two solutions to block tracking?

      Or do you really have to go nuts and setup manual ABP blocks for tracking vendor(s)?
    • by antdude (79039)
      And use hosts to block those ad servers! OpenDNS for blocking malware and other bad servers.
  • by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:12PM (#23095102)
    Wouldn't it be smarter to just block the ads instead? To prevent such cookies from touching one's computer?
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)
      The best way is rather than to try and blacklist all bad cookies, simply whitelist the ones you want to keep and delete all others at the end of your browsing session.

      This can be done in Firefox by setting cookies to expire at the end of the session and then using CookieButton to whitelist ones you want to keep (to stay logged into /. for example).

      Combine this with a daily modem reboot to change your IP address, and you are almost untrackable.
  • Cookies (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:12PM (#23095104) Homepage Journal
    When you outlaw cookies, only outlaws will have cookies..... yum delicious cookies
  • In order to sign up for the 'Do Not Track' registry, you'll need to provide your name, address, phone number, SSN, mother's maiden name, and the names of all the porn sites you regularly visit. Without this information, we cannot guarantee your privacy.
  • That use of adblock has been called "immoral" http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/11/157256/ [slashdot.org]

    I wonder how this will be received...

    And if they (the trackers) said they would comply, would you believe them?
  • Wouldn't I have to put down quite a lot of detail on the register just to enable companies to figure out whether they are supposed to avoid tracking me?

    Worse, it'd be doing the hardest bit - connecting the dots.
  • How about a Leave Me Alone Registry that registers you to all these other registries?
  • The only problem with a do-not-track registry is that it is almost impossible to work with. I mean, you will be creating a list of what, exactly, that somehow a server will have to access, how, that will somehow have a web application to optionally not use cookies? Or somehow not use real e-mail addresses in its database? To some extent, for a lot of web stuff to work, you have to track users activities.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:19PM (#23095178) Homepage Journal
    Judging from how much more spam I get since the CAN-SPAM law supposedly outlawed it, I don't think these online registries do anything but register a high-value contact address. The Do-Not-Call list is different, because the telcos control the calls, and there's a lot more legal precedent (teeth) in counterattacking harassing phonecalls.

    It's interesting how despite telcos like AT&T declaring they're going to police the Internet for copyright violation, and otherwise snoop content and traffic as they please, they don't seem to be implementing network spam filters, like with do-not-spam registries. Even though that would be very popular with users, and give the telcos each an excuse to get our contact lists, "to use as whitelists" (or whatever else they want).

    There really should be a major push to enforce protecting our privacy. Every email system should operate with a whitelist by default, so only people you add (and maybe people on their whitelist) can get through to you. What would work even better would be micropayments to the recipient for each email they receive, with payments waived (or charged back in bulk or net) for those on the whitelist. Make the micropayments settable by the user (and variable even in the whitelist). Then spammers could pay me to spam me, if they can afford it, and I can make money off being spammed if I set the micropayments low enough. My associates will get to me for free, and new associates can pay to get my attention, then get it refunded if I accept their new contact (and then put them on the whitelist).

    Otherwise the noise in our messaging systems really degrade their high value, and inhibit our making using them second nature. Just like what would have happened to the telephone if it were as cheap for telemarketers to annoy us as it is for them to spam us.
  • oxymoron? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bob-taro (996889) on Wednesday April 16, 2008 @03:35PM (#23095384)

    A "do not track" ... registry? Is this a late April fool's day joke? It sounds like it could backfire. Wouldn't it mean that websites that track at all would be LEGALLY REQUIRED to obtain some piece of identifying information about you to check against the registry? And how could you prove a violation? Wouldn't it still pretty much rely on "self-regulation"?

    As an aside, I used to work in a marketing department that had separate "do not call", "do not mail", and "do not email" flags for all their customers. Our group's policy (I can't speak for the whole company) was that if any of those flags were set, we wouldn't put them on any kind of contact list. I think the decision was still based on economics -- they figured the benefit of marketing to a few more people was outweighed by the risk of angering those people: "I'm sorry, sir, I see that you asked not to be mailed or emailed any more offers, but you didn't say we couldn't CALL you!"

    • Dang, this is exactly what I was going to say! I mean you use different words than I would, but it is EXACTLY what I was going to post.

      In order to not be tracked, one would have to be ... tracked.
  • Why don't browsers and email clients simply have a 'Do not Track' option? Each request would send the 'do not track' flag. Better yet, make it part of the HTML protocol. Whatever the solution is, it should work more like robots.txt that the "do not call list". Tracking.txt could have the sites you want to track you. You should have to opt in, not out. Of course, get ready to start paying for everything on the internet. No tracking == No profit. Unless of course you are actually making money the old fashio
    • Better yet, make it part of the HTML protocol.
      But that would require change, but not in favor of these companies. For some reason I don't think this will happen.
  • This one's been discussed before. [slashdot.org]
  • This won't work with spam as we all know since most spam is already sent illegally. I do wish they had this for regular mail though. That is so much trash just being handed out. How all junk mail isn't opt-in I do not know. Email is at least paperless.
  • How can they know not to track you unless they know it's you. Ergo, they have to track in order not to track. Why not just outlaw tracking altogether, since that's the outright effect of this proposed ban.
  • How about making tracking, bulk email, internet marketing, telemarketing calls, junk mail, surveys, political and non-profit canvassing, RFID, automatic software updates, census polls and the phone book all "opt-in" under penalty of death?
  • None of these "lists" get at the heart of the problem: greedy, selfish, unscrupulous corporations (people).

    These are all stop gap problems. Next, when we have brain-mail, they'll start spamming that. And we'll need a new "list" for the same problem in a different format. We need to stop treating the symptom of the problem.

    What we ought to do is discorporate any company that behaves like this, confiscate 100% of their corporate assets - donate them to schools - and imprison their executive members. Fine

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