At noon today, the White House will unveil a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights announcing the cooperation of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL on a plan to install "Do Not Track" technology in Web browsers. The plan is filled with principles that consumer groups have long endorsed, like refraining from tracking users' activities online and using the information in different contexts. But a closer look at the announcement reveals what the tech giants stood to gain by cooperating. Here are a few:
It's toothless As CNN Money's David Goldman writes, the tech giants don't stand to lose very much by this new plan. "The bill is a splashy gesture, but it's also pretty toothless. The document is stuffed with vague rules such as: 'Companies should offer consumers clear and simple choices, presented at times and in ways that enable consumers to make meaningful decisions.'" The White House even admitted that the broad outlines of the rule weren't binding and it asked for Congress to pass stricter mandates. But as Goldman notes "that's not going to happen any time soon."
It benefits the tech companies in Europe Some of the tech companies involved, such as Goole, are facing a wave of regulatory scrutiny by EU regulators who want to pass laws governing the tech sector. Thus, as The Washington Post's Cecilia Kang notes, "The move by the U.S. government gives Web giants leverage in their negotiations with regulators in Europe, where the companies can now make a stronger case for voluntary rules, analysts say."