OVERNIGHT TECH: Tough road ahead for Do Not Track

THE LEDE: Members of the group working to create a Do Not Track tool — which includes privacy advocates, tech companies and online ad groups — applauded the announcement that an Adobe higher-up and a privacy advocate would be the group’s new leaders, but they told The Hill the group is still unlikely to cross the finish line.

The group’s new leaders are Adobe Standards Principal Carl Cargill and Justin Brookman, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Project on Consumer Privacy. The two join the group’s remaining co-chairman, Intel’s Matthias Schunter, and replace outgoing co-chairman Peter Swire, who is leaving the group to work on the White House’s surveillance review panel.

“Justin Brookman has been an effective advocate for consumers and privacy,” Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director John Simpson said. “I respect his work. Nonetheless, I doubt the working group will be able to reach consensus on a meaningful Do Not Track standard, no matter who chairs the effort."

Mike Zaneis, a senior vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which represents online ad networks, said the new co-chairmen are good choices but unlikely to get the contentious, stalled talks across the finish line.

In a blog post, Brookman acknowledged the difficulties that lie ahead for him and Cargill. Some of those difficulties will be settled by a poll the group is taking next month regarding how it should move forward — if at all.

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“Either the group needs to agree to adopt a new structure to finally and definitively settle the core issues, or we should wrap up and work on other solutions to allow users to limit data collection from online advertising,” Brookman wrote.

“I harbor no illusions that this is going to be an easy job,” he added. “However, I strongly believe that users deserve tools to control how their personal information is collected and used, and that Do Not Track can ultimately be configured to protect privacy while preserving the third-party advertising ecosystem.”

McSweeny weighs in: At a nomination hearing, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) pressed Terrell McSweeny, a Democratic nominee to the Federal Trade Commission, on whether she would support mandatory Do Not Track regulations.

"I understand the frustration that you're expressing particularly in the privacy space at the efforts towards self-regulation," she said. "I'm hopeful that those kinds of multistakeholder processes can continue to inform and guide policymaking in this area."

Committee supportive of nominees: Commerce Committee senators said during the hearing that they hoped McSweeny and Michael O'Rielly, a Republican nominee to the Federal Communications Commission, would be approved quickly.

"I intend to schedule votes on each nomination in the Committee soon and will push for quick consideration on the Senate floor," Rockefeller said in an emailed statement. "I can tell you that these agencies do their strongest work for the American people when all Commissioners are on board.” 

O'Rielly's nomination paves the way for the confirmation of Tom Wheeler, President Obama's pick for FCC chairman. It is unclear whether McSweeny will need to be paired with a GOP nominee from another agency to win approval.

FCC looks to help AM radio: Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn circulated a notice of proposed rule-making on Wednesday aimed at improving the service of AM radio stations and reducing their regulatory burdens.

Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, a vocal champion of AM radio, applauded Clyburn for taking action on the issue.

"AM radio is older than the Federal Communications Commission. It has been an integral part of American culture for decades," he said in a statement. 

Ad rep defends agreement: An online advertising representative defended his industry’s anti-piracy voluntary agreement, saying it is a good start. 

“You need to start somewhere,” Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg said, responding to Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) comments earlier in the day. Rothenberg said his group is already working on improvements to the program, which limits the way websites with pirated content can profit from online ads. “This is a continual evolution,” he said.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

LinkedIn has joined other Web companies in a legal fight with the Obama administration for permission to publish more information about the National Security Agency's surveillance of its users.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said on Wednesday that he plans to push legislation to rein in the National Security Agency.

A top representative for the recording industry said the system used by Google to stop online piracy has made “no difference whatsoever.”

Senate Democrats expressed concern on Wednesday that President Obama's nominee to fill a Republican seat on the FCC won't be willing to work across the aisle.

Google and other search engines need to do more to stop online piracy, lawmakers and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said on Wednesday.

Communication and transparency are key to restoring user trust in Facebook and the government following a summer of revelations about government surveillance, the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said Wednesday.

 

Please send tips and comments to Brendan Sasso, bsasso@thehill.com, and Kate Tummarello, katet@thehill.com.

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