Tracing cookies, and particularly those emanating from 3rd party sources, have been well and truly under the microscope of late. In an effort to appease disgruntled users, ‘Do Not Track’ options and plug-ins have become part and parcel of many browser feature-sets. The issue with many of these solutions is that they still rely largely on the integrity of the sites in question. Now, a new and innovative solution is under way which may just be the answer to these often unappreciated intrusions, compliments of an initiative called Cookie Clearinghouse (CCH) which is spearheaded by Aleecia M. McDonald, the Director of Privacy at CIS.
Internet users are starting to understand that their online activities are closely monitored, often by companies they have never heard of before. But Internet users currently don’t have the tools they need to make online privacy choices. The Cookie Clearinghouse will create, maintain, and publish objective information. Web browser companies will be able to choose to adopt the lists we publish to provide new privacy options to their users.
Please bear with me on this, I am far from expert on the subject and am merely presenting my interpretation of the information to hand. They way I see it; Cookie Clearinghouse is working toward identifying those instances where tracking is being conducted without the user’s consent/permission. The end game is to provide Block-lists and Accept-lists based on certain criteria. The criteria, and ultimately the lists, are to be established through consultations with an advisory board comprising representatives from browser companies (including Mozilla and Opera), academic privacy researchers, as well as individuals with expertise in small businesses and in European law… it is anticipated that the advisory panel shall continue to grow over time.
Ultimately, Cookie ClearingHouse will be responsible for creating and maintaining the lists, browser developers will then be able to choose whether to incorporate the lists into the privacy options they offer their users… I believe it’s highly likely that most will choose to do so.
Bottom line: When all this comes to fruition we will have in place a system which truly helps regulate the ways in which sites and ad companies utilize cookies, tracking cookies in particular. This is a much preferred solution over the currently self-regulated ‘Do Not Track’ option. The mere fact that all errant sites and ad companies will see their names and/or URLs included in a list of non-compliance will surely provide a huge disincentive for them to continue unsolicited tracking. Take that a step further and make the lists available as a feature in popular browsers, and you have a near to ideal solution.
- You can read through Cookie ClearingHouse’s blueprint in full here: http://cch.law.stanford.edu/our-projects/
Please do, and let us know your thoughts.