Monday, August 19, 2019

WebKit Tracking Prevention Policy

WebKit (via Jon Davis, Hacker News):

This document describes the web tracking practices that WebKit believes, as a matter of policy, should be prevented by default by web browsers. These practices are harmful to users because they infringe on a user’s privacy without giving users the ability to identify, understand, consent to, or control them.


WebKit will do its best to prevent all covert tracking, and all cross-site tracking (even when it’s not covert). These goals apply to all types of tracking listed above, as well as tracking techniques currently unknown to us.


We do not grant exceptions to our tracking prevention technologies to specific parties. Some parties might have valid uses for techniques that are also used for tracking. But WebKit often has no technical means to distinguish valid uses from tracking, and doesn’t know what the parties involved will do with the collected data, either now or in the future.

It’s good to have this all summarized in one place.

There are practices on the web that we do not intend to disrupt, but which may be inadvertently affected because they rely on techniques that can also be used for tracking. […] When faced with a tradeoff, we will typically prioritize user benefits over preserving current website practices. […] However, we will try to limit unintended impact. We may alter tracking prevention methods to permit certain use cases, particularly when greater strictness would harm the user experience.

I can’t tell from this whether they intend to prioritize the “user benefit” of not being tracked above the benefit of being able to use the site. It sounds like the policy is to decide case-by-case.


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