Sep 25, 2019

Google Alone Takes Stand on Privacy, Ph.D. Student Nick Doty Explains

From The Register

Google takes sole stand on privacy, rejects new rules for fear of 'authoritarian' review

By Thomas Claburn

Google alone has blocked a proposed revision of the charter of the Privacy Interest Group (PING), a part of the W3C web standards body. Google claims having concerns of establishing an unchecked "authoritarian review group" will create "significant unnecessary chaos in the development of the web platform."

The PING's job is to ensure that technical specifications — recommended by the W3C — respect the privacy of people using the web. The group does so by providing a "horizontal review," in which members make suggestions to the authors of technical specifications to ensure the web tech being developed takes privacy into account.

In June, PING polled the 450 or so W3C members about the proposed new charter. Voting closed on August 4th. According to an individual familiar with situation, only 26 W3C members responded and Google alone objected. Because the group requires unanimous consensus, the new charter was not adopted.

Nick Doty, a Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley's School of Information and a PING member, provided The Register with a diff to compare the two documents.

Doty comments, "I don’t know why Google representatives chose to object to this charter, but I do hope the now expressed interest in reviews and the deliverables of the Interest Group will lead to more investment in PING and in Web privacy."

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Last updated:

October 23, 2019