VP Product Development
I’m here in Austin at Microsoft’s IE9 press event to talk browser tracking protection – one of the new features of Microsoft’s latest browser release, IE9. As I wrote earlier, TRUSTe has supported this new feature by releasing our own IE9 tracking protection list, which consumers can download at: http://tracking-protection.truste.com/ . The goal of our list is to allow consumers to grant tracking permission only to those companies whose online tracking and advertising practices are in compliance with industry best privacy practices. To be clear: our list also blocks those tracking companies who we find do not comply with these privacy standards. As of today we currently block 23 companies on our tracking protection list for IE9. We believe this to be the most pragmatic approach to tracking protection, since many consumers enjoy the relevance and personalization that online tracking offers – value that would be lost by exercising blanket, industry-wide opt-outs. It’s not reasonable to expect consumers to be able to identify those good companies from bad actors so we’ve done the work for them. TRUSTe’s tracking protection list offers consumers the ability to enjoy a more personalized web powered by trusted companies who protect their privacy.
A 2010 study from the Future of Privacy Forum found that 46 percent of consumers are uncomfortable with online behavioral advertising without transparency and choice. Offering consumers tracking choice at the browser level is an important development in the quest to provide consumers with increased transparency and control around online tracking. Browsers are the portals through which consumers access the Internet and it’s a platform where consumers are already accustomed to exercising privacy controls such as private browsing mode or clearing HTTP cookies. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz has called Microsoft’s new tracking protection feature “a critical step toward providing consumers with more choice about who can track their online browsing.”
To reiterate a point I made in a previous post, we’ll be using the next few weeks to fine tune our tracking protection list, so expect frequent updates. TRUSTe is reexamining each and every company that we have granted tracking permission on our list to verify that they meet best privacy practices for online tracking and advertising. To accomplish this we’re leveraging our existing database of hundreds of online trackers that we’ve assembled from our privacy scanning technology that has crawled thousands upon thousands of websites in the last year.
We are also integrating our behavioral-targeting opt-out cookie preference service with our TPL process to give consumers the broadest set of choice options available in a single integrated step. We are testing several methods to optimize this user experience, so look for these changes soon.