Does the Do Not Track setting in browsers actually do anything?

kreiley

Google got a bit of grief for not having a DNT setting on it's browser, whereas Firefox and IE did, so Google is adding it. Not sure about Safari and the more obscure browsers. I use both Firefox and Chrome, and frankly I've never noticed much (and by "much" I mean "any") difference between them for ads and whatnot. Isn't the DNT thing voluntary on the part of advertisers anyway? Do any of them actually pay it any attention?

Topic: Internet
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jimlynch
Vote Up (17)

Here's some background on it. I think it's a start in the right direction though it's not perfect.

Do Not Track
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Not_Track

"The do not track header is a proposed HTTP header field that would request a web application to disable either their tracking or their cross-site tracking (the ambiguity has not been resolved yet) of a user. The "Do Not Track" header was originally proposed in 2009 by researchers Christopher Soghoian, Sid Stamm, and Dan Kaminsky.[1] It is currently being standardized by the W3C.[2]

In December 2010, Microsoft announced support for the DNT mechanism in its Internet Explorer 9 web browser.[3] Followed by Mozilla's Firefox,[4]Apple's Safari,[5] and Opera all later added support.[6] It is not currently supported by Google Chrome, but will be incorporated into it by the end of 2012.[7][8]

The header field name is "DNT" and it currently accepts three values: 1 in case the user does not wish to be tracked (opt out), 0 in case the user consents to being tracked (opt in), or null (no header sent) if the user has not expressed a preference. The default behavior is to not send the header, until the user chooses to enable the setting via their browser."

Christopher Nerney
Vote Up (15)

Rcook12 makes a good point ("Don't mistakenly think that DNT works for everything or that you are surfing anonymously.") I believe it's never wise to assume the stated policies of the major browser vendors are as they appear. I wonder if using <a href="http://duckduckgo.com/">DuckDuckGo</a>, the search engine that explicitly protects user privacy by not recording user information, would be a solution. What I'm not sure of is whether browsers can grab that info even if you're using DDG.

rcook12
Vote Up (12)

Not too much, but to echo jimlynch's sentiment, it's a start.  It's a voluntary thing on the part of advertisers, so if they don't want to respect your "DNT" request, they don't have to.  I think only a few actually pay it any attention.  Twitter does, if I recall correctly.   And I think Google+ and Facebook does as well.  But don't mistakenly think that it works for everything or that you are surfing anonymously, DNT doesn't do that.  You might want to consider private or incognito browser settings to gain a little more privacy, since that ensures no cookies are saved for each session.   

Christopher Nerney
Vote Up (10)

Rcook12 makes a good point ("Don't mistakenly think that DNT works for everything or that you are surfing anonymously.") I believe it's never wise to assume the stated policies of the major browser vendors are as they appear. I wonder if using DuckDuckGo, the search engine that explicitly protects user privacy by not recording user information, would be a solution. What I'm not sure of is whether browsers can grab that info even if you're using DDG.

http://duckduckgo.com/

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