Do-Not-Track List Would 'Stifle the Innovation of Relevance'

When asked in a JupiterResearch Consumer survey, just 17% of the online population cited adware as a strong concern that had impacted their use of the Internet in the last 12 months. Moreover, 15% of the online population stated that they had paid for anti-adware software, indicating that this portion of the population that is rightly concerned with ad-tracking and malicious attempts to monitor their behavior are already self-regulating this situation.

Such a do-not-track list is impractical for a number of reasons. JupiterResearch continues to find that consumers regularly clear their cache and delete cookies in order to protect their surfing behavior. Beyond that engrained behavior, the notion of computer sharing at home, work and school makes the notion of a do-not-track list a logistical nightmare. This reality coupled with the comparison to the do-not-call list that the document cites is not accurate. The Do Not Call list works particularly because of the friction involved with setting up a phone number. While difficult, a malicious advertiser could circumvent such friction by setting up a new IP address and thus such a do-not-track list is merit-less just as the failed proposal for a do-not-email list was. Malicious email senders can hide behind a new and changing array of IP addresses and the same is true for those bad actors in the online ad space.

Furthermore, such a system would undermine a significant and growing portion of the online economy that is behavioral targeting. Many technology companies—and increasingly, legitimate publishers—are using behavioral tracking to increase advertising revenue versus one ad for all.

Lastly, such a notion of a an IP-based do-not-track list would fly in the face of the FCC mandate requiring digital transmission of TV signals (coming to a set-top box in the near future). The advertiser/publisher benefit of that FCC mandate is to potentially target the IP address of a set-top box in order to deliver more meaningful and relevant ads and content. The FTC proposal is in conflict with the promise of the FCC plan and would simply raise costs and stifle the innovation of relevance.

—David Daniels of JupiterResearch