August 19, 2011, 12:00 AM — Online ad-business observers are shocked that advertisers not only didn't respect the Do Not Track features built into the latest version of all the major browsers, They pushed their invading forces further into what remains of browsers' privacy by using an even-more-powerful type of supercookie and services that will copy users' browsing history without permission.
A Wall Street Journal story Thursday morning touched off outrage that companies like Epic Media Group would build and distribute code that would embed itself in browsers and report which of 1,500 sites they visit.
Epic tracks 2,500 data segments of data on individuals and embeds a cookie that continues to sent browser-history information after users opt out of the service.
Other companies cited by the WSJ but not named specifically, attach cookies that re-launch theselves after a user deletes them and recreate the user's behavioral profile.
Lee Peeler, executive vice president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said the techniques violate the guidelines if they are used “to negate consumer choices” related to the display of online advertising, according to the Journal story.
Last December the Federal Trade Commission proposed a Do Not Track list both advertisers and sellers of advertising could promise to use to respect the privacy of customers without having to put up with a lot of pesky regulation.
The regulations would have been hard to push through a newly Republican-dominated House of Representatives, anyway, so why bother, when self-regulation and the obvious willingness of Corporate America to venerate the rights of its customers would take care of any potential problems.
Of course they'd be wrong, if advertisers and publishers hadn't ignored the do-not track technology and wishes of their customers to such an extent that it was hard for researchers at the Center for Internet and Society to find any at all that stopped tracking all a user's behavior after the user asked them to stop using the Do Not Track feature.