Jonathan Mayer

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Marketers are worried that the lack of cookies—or pixel-firing Web tracking mechanisms about customer activities on sites—will make targeting and retargeting particularly difficult on mobile devices. However, Verizon's "unique customer codes" can track users across browsers and via apps, even when they've opted out of cookies, reports The New York Times. "While Internet users can choose to delete their regular cookies, Verizon Wireless users cannot delete the company's so-called supercookies," write Natasha Singer and Brian X. Chen on Sunday.

The ad industry's privacy group just may have sounded the death knell for the worldwide Do Not Track initiative. The Digital Advertising Alliance announced it will depart the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Tracking Protection Working Group. That's the broad collective of privacy advocates, technologists, ad industry representatives and lawyers who have struggled over the past two years to define online tracking and determine a standard for a browser-based do-not-track mechanism, to no avail. "If you measure it by progress, it's dead."

The advertising industry suffered a setback late last night when the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium rejected the Digital Advertising Alliance's draft proposal for a universal Do Not Track standard. Instead, the 110-member group will work from another, more comprehensive, document—referred to as the June draft—that even privacy advocates believe faces insurmountable obstacles to adoption by the deadline at the end of this month. For two years, the TPWG has tied itself up in knots in trying to bring diverse interests together to agree to a universal browser-based mechanism for Internet users

The tantalizing promise of a single button that prevents ads from tracking your online behavior is fizzling fast. More than nine months after the Obama administration, digital advertisers, browser makers and privacy advocates agreed in principle to create a "Do Not Track" mechanism for Web browsing, the tool is no closer to becoming a reality than it was in February. ... After months of wrangling, the groups still can't even come to an agreement on what "tracking" means and includes.

There is a new front in the titanic war between Google and Apple for control of the Internet: browser privacy. In February, Stanford graduate student Jonathan Mayer proved that Google had devised a clever means to “trick” Apple’s mobile Safari browser into allowing the installation of third-party cookies. That sounds—and is—shady, but iPhone users may feel better about it when they learn that third-party cookie installation is standard on the browsers you’ve been using on your computer for years.

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