Oct 022012
 October 2, 2012  Posted by  Business, Online, U.S.

Wow. I just caught up with an article by Grant Gross that says that Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is not honoring Do Not Track headers. Because his article appeared a few days ago, I went to ITIF’s site to see if they were still rejecting DNT headers.  They were, as this is what I saw:

So why are they rejecting it? Daniel Castro explains why here.

And that’s the last thing I’ll read on their site until they decide that regardless of their opinion, users’ requests as expressed in their headers should be respected – even if they think consumers are making a poor choice that will come back to bite them.

  2 Responses to “ITIF rejects Do Not Track headers”

  1. I think that ITIF is doing more to respect users’ requests than most sites. After all, we alert individuals who have Do Not Track enabled who come to our site about our policy. This gives users a chance to leave if they don’t like it. In contrast, many other sites simply ignore the request.

    In fact, on this site I see that there are three cookies set: one first party cookie and two third-party cookies (scorecardresearch.com and sharethis.com). I believe both of those latter cookies are used to track users across websites. And when I visit this site with Do Not Track enabled in my browser, I believe I am still tracked.

    So there is really no difference between ITIF’s website and this one, except ITIF is arguably being more transparent about its actions.

    Now I don’t begrudge you for not putting up a notice to tell users that they are being tracked, even when they ask not to be, on your site, I just think that this makes your criticism seems a bit hypocritical.

  2. Hmmm. I went back and forth about using ShareThis on my blogs, and recently re-activated it to make it convenient for readers to share links. After reading your comment, I just deactivated it again. I have no idea why you’re seeing scorecardsearch.com, though, and am having someone else investigate that as it didn’t/doesn’t show up when I tested my site in Safari and Chrome (even before I deactivated ShareThis again). I’m not aware of anything on my site that calls for scorecardsearch.com (unless it’s bundled/hidden in something I don’t know about). Another reason for users to use proxies, it seems. I just contacted a tech person to investigate and get rid of it if it’s on my site.

    I humbly accept your point about hypocrisy – even if tracking is unintentional and this site is non-commercial and I never look at data. We agree that it’s bad when sites don’t inform visitors that they’re ignoring the DNT header. That said, making a conscious decision to willfully ignore a users’ expressed desire to not be tracked is disrespectful. I would much prefer sites to do what the EU sites are now doing with respect to cookies: put a notice on the homepage about the use of cookies and inform users what won’t work or what they can’t access unless they permit a, b, c… – or at least post a notice on the homepage “This site overrides your Do Not Track header. If you don’t want to be tracked or have the following types of data collected, do not continue on this site….” ITIF did that voluntarily, as you note. But as you also note, there is nothing that prevents sites from overriding and not informing users.

    You and I will likely continue to disagree on tracking and data collection, but as long as businesses continue to track and/or collect information unbeknownst to the consumer, I think we need regulations and not voluntary self-regulation. I would prefer the regulations prohibit data collection without opt-in consent, but would settle for informed notice on the home page so that at least users can make a choice.

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