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SANTA MONICA, CA – The withdrawal today of a major advertising trade association from a group trying to write a Do Not Track standard demonstrates the need for legislation to protect online privacy, Consumer Watchdog said. The public interest group said it is exploring the possibility of drafting a California ballot initiative to implement Do Not Track protections.

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) told the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that the DAA no longer believes W3C’s Tracking Protection Work Group is capable of fostering the development of a workable Do Not Track solution and is quitting the group.  The working group has been struggling for more than two-and-a-half years in an effort to write Do Not Track rules that would allow consumers to tell websites they don’t want their online activities tracked. Working group members include representatives from browser companies, the ad industry, universities and consumer groups

“The divergence of views among those in the group has been too wide to bridge.  I don’t see how it is possible to reach consensus in this sort of multi-stakeholder process,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director. “We’re going to need legislation.”
Consumer Watchdog noted that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a Do Not Track bill in the U.S. Senate.

“Given the current dysfunction of Congress it may be difficult to pass that into law,” said Simpson. “That is why Consumer Watchdog is exploring putting the Do Not Track issue directly to California’s voters in 2014 through the state’s ballot initiative process.”

Simpson has been participating in the W3C talks as an “invited expert.”  In 2011 Consumer Watchdog sponsored then California Sen. Alan Lowenthal’s Do Not Track Bill, SB 761.  The bill was approved by the California Senate Judiciary Committee, but stalled in the Appropriations Committee.

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