For over 15 years the World Wide Web Consortium has organized diverse groups of global experts to help create the technical protocols and guidelines that enable the Web to function in a reliable and trusted way. The W3C, as it’s known, has taken on some of the toughest challenges – even online privacy, an issue that at its heart isn’t necessarily technology-focused.
Today, the W3C’s “Tracking Protection” work group published the first public working drafts of what eventually should become Web privacy standards. (One of us – Matthias Schunter– co-chairs the work group.) These standards will help create a more consistent online expression of respect for individuals’ privacy preferences – while preserving the data-rich experience that so many organizations and consumers enjoy for its efficiency and convenience. Work group participants reflect the wide range of interests and expertise necessary to tackle this challenge: from enterprises such as Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft to communities and non-profit organizations such as Mozilla, the Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Future of Privacy Forum and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Early efforts are promising, and gaining momentum. And the timing couldn’t be better, given recent privacy developments and the number of governments and other groups seeking a single approach that consumers can understand and use when they do not want data about their online behavior to be used in certain ways.