How the "Do Not Track" Feature Does Everything But

#Internet

Mon, Mar 11th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Ed Bott at ZDNet, the Do Not Track feature found in browsers -- a "tiny snippet of information in its header" which indicates that "the owner of that user-agent has expressed a desire that his or her online movements not be tracked" -- does not actually work.

Reportedly, as the feature "requires good faith cooperation from the parties at the other end of the web connection" for it to work, it should come to no surprise that they are, instead "actively subverting the intent of DNT."

In response to this, Mozilla Firefox is considering a privacy setting to ignore third-party cookies, a feature already supported by Safari and soon-to-be included in Internet Explorer.

As a consumer, you’d think that the meaning of “Do Not Track” is pretty clear. You’re making a polite request of the web sites and advertisers: “Don’t collect and store any information about me without my explicit permission.”

And yet, according to Sarah Downey, an attorney and privacy advocate who works for the online-privacy firm Abine, that’s not what’s happening.

Two big associations, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Digital Advertising Alliance, represent 90% of advertisers. Downey says those big groups have devised their own interpretation of Do Not Track. When the servers controlled by those big companies encounter a DNT=1 header, says Downey, "They have said they will stop serving targeted ads but will still collect and store and monetize data.”

That’s a perverse interpretation, and certainly isn’t what an ordinary consumer would expect. Indeed, some giant web properties have been more faithful to the spirit of the standard.

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