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Feb
10
2011

Tracking Protection Lists – Delivering More Choice for IE9 Users

By Kevin Trilli
VP of Product Management
TRUSTe

TRUSTe is excited about Microsoft’s announcement regarding its Tracking Protection Lists (TPL) program for IE9. It’s great to see the company behind the world’s most popular browser building proactive privacy protections into their product and we looking forward to supporting it with our own IE9 compatible TPL, hosted at trackingprotection.truste.com. The behavioral advertising environment is complicated and constantly evolving, making consumer privacy protection a difficult challenge. Collaborative protection efforts (like those of the Digital Advertising Alliance) and meaningful technological enablements by major stakeholders like Microsoft offer the advertising industry the best opportunity to meet this challenge.

TPLs offer browser users granular control by blocking content from pre-selected online trackers, or specifically allowing content from pre-approved trackers. We’ve seen similar types of control available before with ad blocking plug-ins (such as Ad Block Plus for Firefox), but Microsoft’s TPL program differs from typical ad-blocking technologies is that it permits both “ALLOW” and “BLOCK” functionality. In layman’s terms, this means that list creators can either block bad actors, or pre-approve trusted tracking companies. In a situation where consumers use multiple lists, an “ALLOW” permission for a company on one list will override a “BLOCK” assignment for that same company on any other list. This means that list creators, like TRUSTe, have significant responsibility and must carefully evaluate whether a company adequately protects consumer privacy and deserves an “ALLOW” permission. There will undoubtedly be some IE9 TPL list creators that will only identify bad actors to block and not include any “ALLOW” permissions on their lists.

TRUSTe’s TRUSTed Tracking Protection List

TRUSTe’s TRUSTed Tracking Protection List for IE9, hosted at trackingprotection.truste.com, is designed for the average consumer who has little to no expertise in the advertising ecosystem. Given the choice between relevant (targeted) advertising and random advertising, TRUSTe believes most consumer would chose targeted advertising, provided the companies serving that advertising protect their privacy by offering them transparency, accountability and choice. Thus, TRUSTe will be including both “ALLOW” and “BLOCK” functionality in its TPL for IE9, using the following criteria:

A) TRUSTe will assign “ALLOW” permission to tracking companies that are under TRUSTe’s direct oversight and compliant with industry best practices as outlined in the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) behavioral advertising self-regulatory framework. For those companies that are compliant with DAA self-regulatory principles, but not under TRUSTe’s oversight, we will *not* assign a BLOCK status.

B) We will assign “BLOCK” instructions to those companies that TRUSTe has reviewed and deemed not in compliance with industry best practices.

TRUSTe is uniquely positioned to create this balanced list of approved and non-approved trackers as we have extensively crawled the web and collected and reviewed data on hundreds tracker domains across cookies, LSOs and other tracking mechanisms. Moreover, we have developed TRUSTed Ads, a DAA-approved behavioral advertising self-regulatory service, which gives us direct oversight over service users. We also provide deep certification of advertising/data companies via our Service Provider Certification program.

TRUSTe also understands the industry is just starting to embark on various initiatives based upon evolving standards. As such, TRUSTe will be taking a pragmatic approach to releasing its programs to help the industry self-regulate and provide consumers notice and choice.

Over the last decade millions of consumers have come to rely on TRUSTe to guide them to websites that protect their privacy. We look forward to further extending our guidance capabilities to the online advertising ecosystem with TRUSTed Ads and our participation in Microsoft’s Tracking Protection Lists program for IE9. IE9 users leveraging our TPL list are encourage to provide feedback at trackingfeedback@truste.com and advertising and data companies interested in learning more about our list can reach us at serviceproviders@truste.com.

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