A privacy-friendly DNT Policy
Below is a Discussion Draft of EFF's first proposed DNT Policy, a text file that domains can post in verbatim form to unilaterally commit to respecting a meaningful version of Do Not Track, in such a way that other software can tell they have done so. There are frequently asked questions below.
Do Not Track Compliance Policy Discussion version [0.2 in progress] This domain complies with user opt-outs from tracking via the "Do Not Track" or "DNT" header [http://www.w3.org/TR/tracking-dnt/]. This file will always be posted via HTTPS at https://example-domain.com/.well-known/dnt-policy.txt to indicate this fact. SCOPE This policy document allows an operator of a Fully Qualified Domain Name ("domain") to declare that it respects Do Not Track as a meaningful privacy opt-out of tracking, so that privacy-protecting software can better determine whether to block or anonymize communications with this domain. This policy is intended first and foremost to be posted on domains that publish ads, widgets, images, scripts and other third-party embedded hypertext (for instance on widgets.example.com), but it can be posted on any domain, including those user visit directly (such as www.example.com). The policy may be applied to some domains used by a company, site, or service, and not to others. Do Not Track may be sent by any client that uses the HTTP protocol, including websites, mobile apps, and smart devices like TVs. Do Not Track also works with all protocols able to read HTTP headers, including SPDY. NOTE: This policy contains both Requirements and Exceptions. Where possible terms are defined in the text, but a few additional definitions are included at the end. REQUIREMENTS When this domain receives Web requests from a user who enables DNT by actively choosing an opt-out setting in their browser or by installing software that is primarily designed to protect privacy ("DNT User"), we will take the following measures with respect to those users' data, subject to the Exceptions, also listed below: 1. END USER IDENTIFIERS: a. If a DNT User has logged in to our service, all user identifiers, such as unique or nearly unique cookies, "supercookies" and fingerprints are discarded as soon as the HTTP(S) response is issued. b. If a DNT User is not logged in to our service, we will take steps to ensure that no user identifiers are transmitted to us at all. 2. LOG RETENTION: a. Logs with DNT Users' identifiers removed (but including IP addresses and User Agent strings) may be retained for a period of 10 days or less, unless an Exception (below) applies. This period of time balances privacy concerns with the need to ensure that log processing systems have time to operate; that operations engineers have time to monitor and fix technical and performance problems; and that security and data aggregation systems have time to operate. b. These logs will not be used for any other purposes. 3. OTHER DOMAINS: a. If this domain transfers identifiable user data about DNT Users to contractors, affiliates or other parties, or embeds from or posts data to other domains, we will either: b. ensure that the operators of those domains abide by this policy overall by posting it at /.well-known/dnt-policy.txt via HTTPS on the domains in question, OR ensure that the recipient's policies and practices require the recipient to respect the policy for our DNT Users' data. OR obtain a contractual commitment from the recipient to respect this policy for our DNT Users' data. NOTE: if an “Other Domain” does not receive identifiable user information from the domain because such information has been removed, because the Other Domain does not log that information, or for some other reason, these requirements do not apply. 4. PERIODIC REASSERTION OF COMPLIANCE: a. At least once every 12 months, we reassert compliance with this document. b. This reassertion must be after reasonable efforts to ensure that the assertion of compliance is accurate. c. If the organization operating this domain has annual revenue of more than USD 25 million or €18 million in inflation-adjusted 2013 currency, it will conduct an annual audit of compliance with this policy. 5. USER NOTIFICATION: a. If we are required by law to retain or disclose user identifiers, we will attempt to provide the users with notice (unless we are prohibited or it would be futile) that a request for their information has been made in order to give the users an opportunity to object to the retention or disclosure. b. We will attempt to provide this notice by email, if the users have given us an email address, and by postal mail if the users have provided a postal address. c. If the users do not challenge the disclosure request, we may be legally required to turn over their information. d. We may delay notice if we, in good faith, believe that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay of information relating to the emergency. EXCEPTIONS Data from DNT Users collected by this domain may be logged or retained only in the following specific situations: 1. CONSENT / "OPT BACK IN" a. DNT Users are opting out from tracking across the Web. It is possible that for some feature or functionality, we will need to ask a DNT User to "opt back in" to be tracked by us across the entire Web. b. If we do that, we will take reasonable steps to verify that the users who select this option have genuinely intended to opt back in to tracking. One way to do this is by performing scientifically reasonable user studies with a representative sample of our users, but smaller organizations can satisfy this requirement by other means. 2. TRANSACTIONS If a DNT User actively and knowingly enters a transaction with our services (for instance, clicking on a clearly-labeled advertisement, posting content to a widget, or purchasing an item), we will retain necessary data for as long as required to perform the transaction. This may for example include keeping auditing information for clicks on advertising links; keeping a copy of posted content and the name of the posting user; keeping server-side session IDs to recognize logged in users; or keeping a copy of the physical address to which a purchased item will be shipped. By their nature, some transactions will require data to be retained indefinitely. 3. TECHNICAL AND SECURITY LOGGING: a. If, during the processing of the initial request (for unique identifiers) or during the subsequent 10 days (for IP addresses and User Agent strings), we obtain specific information that causes our employees or systems to believe that a request is, or is likely to be, part of a security attack or fraudulent transaction, then logs of those requests are not subject to this policy. b. If we encounter technical problems with our site, then, in rare circumstances, we may retain logs for longer than 10 days, if that is necessary diagnose and fix those problems, but this practice will not be routinized and we will strive to delete such logs as soon as possible. 4. AGGREGATION: a. We may retain and share anonymized datasets, such as aggregate records of readership patterns; statistical models of user behavior; graphs of system variables; data structures to count active users on monthly or yearly bases; or logs with encrypted IP addresses and simplified User Agent strings. b. "Anonymized" means we have conducted risk mitigation to ensure that the dataset, plus any additional information that is in our possession or likely to be available to us, does not allow the reconstruction of reading habits or online activity of groups of fewer than 4096 individuals or devices. 5. ERRORS: From time to time, there may be inadvertent errors by which user data is temporarily logged or retained in violation of this policy. We will delete this data as soon practicable after we become aware of the error and take steps to ensure that it is deleted by any third-party who may have had access to the data. ADDITIONAL DEFINITIONS "Fully Qualified Domain Name" means a domain name that addresses a computer connected to the Internet. For instance, example1.com; www.example1.com; ads.example1.com; and widgets.example2.com are all distinct FQDNs. "Supercookie" means any technology other than an HTTP Cookie which can be used by a server to associate identifiers with the clients that visit it. Examples of supercookies include Flash LSO cookies, DOM storage, HTML5 storage, or tricks to store information in caches or etags. "Risk mitigation" means an engineering process that evaluates the possibility and likelihood of various adverse outcomes, considers the available methods of making those adverse outcomes less likely, and deploys sufficient mitigations to bring the probability and harm from adverse outcomes below an acceptable threshold.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why would a domain post this policy?
- Should my company work on complying with and posting the Discussion Draft?
- How do I comment on the discussion draft? How do I follow changes to it?
- I'm an advertising/tracking company and my business practices require me to set unique cookies or fingerprint everyone, even if they have the DNT flag set. Is this policy for me?
- What does the dnt-policy.txt promise mean?
- We embed a 3rd or 4th party domain that isn't DNT compliant. What are some solutions?
A domain operator may choose to post this policy because it wants to meet best-practices privacy standards, and comply with user opt-outs from tracking. It may also comply because it wants to signal to privacy protection software (like Privacy Badger) that it respects Do Not Track, so that its third-party embeds are less likely to be blocked.
In the former case a site may post the policy on most or all of the subdomains that it operates; in the latter case it is more likely to be posted on domains intended for third-party embedding only.
If you're already compliant and ready to post the discussion draft, go ahead and do so. But if it will take effort, we recommend posting the preliminary policy for the time being. Once we've received feedback on the Discussion Draft and made changes, we will anounce a longer-lived, non-draft version 1.0.
You can send comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a mailing list for announcements of major revisions to the policy here. There is also a copy of the policy on Github that you can use for pull request or issues. But be aware that Github is not (currently) compliant with this DNT policy!
I'm an advertising/tracking company and my business practices require me to set unique cookies or fingerprint everyone, even if they have the DNT flag set. Is this policy for me?
No. This policy is not intended to be compatible with businesses practices that involve the non-consensual collection of Internet users' reading habits or online activities. It is a document intended to give users strong privacy protections, which means that in the current Web environment only some companies are going to be willing and able to post it.
Posting the dnt-policy.txt file makes a promise to the users who interact with their domain. We believe it would be a false and misleading trade practice to post the policy without the intent to comply in good faith. However, EFF is not in a position to enforce this promise or monitor compliance.
It's common for domains that want to be DNT compliant to embed scripts, images or CSS from other 3rd or 4th party domains. Often those domains are not DNT compliant. There are a few possible solutions:
- In some cases, double-iframing the embed from your domain in order to strip Referer headers may be sufficient. Whether that is the case depends on whether the dataset the embedded domain gets as a result of your embed is an "anonymized dataset" as defined by the DNT Policy or not.
- Proxying the embeds through a system you control to remove information like referrers and client IP addresses.
- Ask the domain to become DNT Compliant and post the policy.