Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO of privacy-first search engine DuckDuckGo, wrote a bill that attempts to revive a privacy standard that was laid to rest about 10 years ago—the Do Not Track standard. The bill calls for more regulation and accountability of companies that collect private data and distribute it and aims to “undo the tangle of online advertising,” according to The Verge.
“Do Not Track is one thing that you can do that will opt you out of all the tracking. All that’s really left is to give it regulatory teeth,” says Weinberg. “What you need to do is have the government establish what opting out of tracking really means.”
Scandals involving Cambridge Analytica, Marriott, Equifax, and many others have proven private companies either incompetent or simply unable to build and maintain adequate privacy policies and infrastructure that protect their customers. It’s no surprise that the fight to preserve consumer privacy—seeing the tech industry has largely failed at self-regulation, would eventually end up in the legislative sector.
But the bill’s chances are rather bleak. Weinberg has yet to bring any lawmakers on board and is likely to stall in Congress like many privacy and data bills before it. And with a White House and Senate so adverse to regulation and unknowledgeable of the inner workings of the tech industry—and technology itself—it will likely be skimmed over.
If it did pass, however, the bill would institute strict rules regarding the opt-out setting and create clear penalties for sites and ad networks that don’t abide. First-party tracking would be limited to “what the user expects” and all third-party tracking would default to off for any user sending the DNT signal.
It is a David up against a Goliath amalgamated from anti-regulatory politicians, large tech and wireless corporations, and slow-working bureaucracy, but Weinberg’s main goal is to simply bring a legitimate privacy conversation back to the forefront.
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