The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), privacy company Disconnect and a coalition of Internet companies have announced a stronger “Do Not Track” (DNT) setting for Web browsing—a new policy standard that, coupled with privacy software, will better protect users from sites that try to secretly follow and record their Internet activity, and incentivize advertisers and data collection companies to respect a user’s choice not to be tracked online.
The EFF and Disconnect’s partners in this launch are the innovative publishing site Medium, major analytics service Mixpanel, popular ad- and tracker-blocking extension AdBlock, and private search engine DuckDuckGo.
“We are greatly pleased that so many important Web services are committed to this powerful new implementation of Do Not Track, giving their users a clear opt-out from stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of their reading history,” said EFF Chief Computer Scientist Peter Eckersley. “These companies understand that clear and fair practices around analytics and advertising are essential not only for privacy but for the future of online commerce.”
DNT is a preference you can set on Firefox, Chrome, or other Web browsers as well as in the iOS and FirefoxOS mobile operating systems to signal to websites that you want to opt-out of tracking of your online activities. Tracking by advertisers and other third parties is commonplace on the Web today, and typically occurs without the knowledge, permission, or consent of Internet users. You can see evidence of this when ads appear around the Web that are eerily based upon your past browsing habits; meanwhile, the underlying records and profiles of your online activity are distributed between a vast network of advertising exchanges, data brokers, and tracking companies.
The new DNT standard is not an ad- or tracker-blocker, but it works in tandem with these technologies.
“The failure of the ad industry and privacy groups to reach a compromise on DNT has led to a viral surge in ad blocking, massive losses for Internet companies dependent on ad revenue, and increasingly malicious methods of tracking users and surfacing advertisements online,” said Disconnect CEO Casey Oppenheim. “Our hope is that this new DNT approach will protect a consumer’s right to privacy and incentivize advertisers to respect user choice, paving a path that allows privacy and advertising to coexist.”
For the full Do Not Track policy: