Category Archives: Privacy

A call for reasonable Web Tracking and User Privacy

rea·son·able – (see http://www.merriam-webster.com/ )
a : being in accordance with reason reasonable theory>
b : not extreme or excessive < reasonable requests>c : moderatefair reasonable chance> reasonable price>d : inexpensive


At the W3C workshop on Web Tracking and User Privacy there were a number of themes.


One theme is that there are different business interests related to tracking user activity on the web and different definitions of tracking. For example, 1st party tracking might involve a web site recording information to maintain a shopping cart contents, something a user would typically expect. Third party tracking might be used to provide advertisements to a user based on their activity. This may or may not be acceptable to a user but relates to efforts to fund a site that may provide value without charging a fee.


Some tracking offers end users value, whether it be in supporting “free” services or in providing targeted ads that are useful and of interest. 


Of greater concern is the lack of transparency and accountability – tracking without user knowledge or permission and the potential for misuse of the information due to inappropriately long retention or 


Another theme is that usability is important and this includes not burdening users with needless and numerous prompts for permission. In fact, given experience with security prompts such as those related to SSL/TLS certificates,