Do Not Want Do Not Track

Do Not TrackAnybody who has read this website for some time knows I like to be optimistic when it comes to Mozilla, however I am not sure if I have much faith in the new Do Not Track system that has been partially put in place in the latest beta of Firefox 4. So what is all this buzz about Do Not Track about?

Well, to make a long legal story short – the FCC told all the browser brands out there that they need to come up with a way for users to opt out of being tracked for advertising reasons. So, of course, each browser is now pitching their own version of how to get this task done. 

This is how Firefox’s Do Not Track feature should work:

  • Firefox user enables Do Not Track option in the browser
  • The user’s browser sends the Do Not Track header to a commercial website
  • The commercial website provides the content of the website
  • Third-party advertisers also get the Do Not Track header and then display anonymous ads rather than ones targeted at the individual

Sure, it is nice to have that extra option for more privacy if you want it – but there are a lot of factors that have to agree with this system in order for it to work.  In a world of rainbows and kittens this might work, however in the real world I am fearful that it is doomed. 

Why do I feel like Do Not Track is not going to be successful?

  • How are you going to regulate it? If somebody fails to put the header info on their website, will there be a government raid of their computers? What about foreign websites?
  • To work, you need the user, the website and the advertiser to fall in line.  Seems like it is going to be hard to persuade them to change their websites so their advertising is less useful.

For more information on Do Not Track, I would recommend checking out the FAQ on it via the Mozilla Wiki.  Let me know how you feel about it.  Are you excited to see it put in place or do you think it is a waste of time?

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6 Responses to Do Not Want Do Not Track

  1. Catherine Smith Feb/10 at 8:23 am #

    Anyone who has been hacked or had their id stolen
    wants foolproof defense against tracking and hacking
    for that matter.

    The easier hacking and id theft becomes the less
    web traffic there will be.

    It is just too difficult to rebuild your identity.

    Right now it’s get out of Dodge out there
    and there needs to be some safeguards.


  2. MikeL Feb/10 at 9:37 am #

    I agree with the post, that its kind of pointless. I said this sounds good in theory, but is unenforceable, the first time I heard about it. It will only be law in the US anyway.

  3. Josh Feb/10 at 1:26 pm #

    Will it work? Probably not, at first.

    But, if people start paying attention to their privacy it will eventually work. They will start looking at the websites that refuse to include the header, and lists will be made of the sites that do not use it. People will start asking for it, and sites will start using simply to avoid the annoyance of repeated request to start using it.

    The next step will be focused on advertisers that refuse to honor the request. They will be targeted, and the websites that use them will come under pressure to either drop them, or to force them to comply. If people are serious about this issue a solution that works will be found. The free market is a powerful tool if it is allowed to flourish.

    The things is, I do not think that most, or even a large minority, of people really care about this. The ones that do already have ways to prevent being tracked, and use them. Everyone else just does not care. This is more a case of a solution in the search of a problem than a serious problem that needs immediate action.

    The only reason the government is getting involved at all is because a few busy bodies think that people cannot take care of themselves.

  4. Dwight Stegall Feb/11 at 7:02 am #

    I agree with you that most sites won’t add the Do Not Track code to their pages unless they are forced to. Below is how I get around most of the tracking schemes.

    I’m using Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit with Firefox 4.0b11.

    I use Adblock Plus, Element Hiding Helper, and Better Privacy add-ons.

    In Adblock Plus I have Easy and Chinese filters plus Malicious Domain filter.

    In Better Privacy I have it set up to delete LSOs every 2 seconds and other recommended settings.

    I only allow cookies from sites where I have log in accounts.

    I have Do Not Track checked.

    I used to have to clean over 300 adware tracking cookies off of my hard drive everyday. Now I get none.

  5. Dwight Stegall Feb/11 at 7:06 am #

    I forgot to mention I opted out of Google Analytics tracking.

  6. Silver Knight Feb/12 at 1:16 pm #

    Another lovely Firefox addon for the privacy-conscious users out there is Ghostery from (or found at Mozilla addons site). This nifty addon informs you about (and allows you to block) several thousand common tracking scripts as you browse the web.