A privacy advocate has developed a Chrome version of the Firefox Do Not Track extension (by adding the Do Not Track header “DNT: 1” to all requests) technology that comes as standard on Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers. This extension (referred to as an ‘add-on’ in Firefox) lets you inform websites that you do not want your Internet behaviour tracked by advertising systems. I’ve no idea why Google has never built the DNT feature into Chrome. The only downside I can see right now is that the add-on currently only works with Chrome 17 beta.
Last year – February 11th, 2011, the US Congress passed a bill (Do-Not-Track-Me-Online Act) that would require online-tracking firms to allow citizens to opt out of tracking (see my Firefox and IE9 posts to find out more about cookie control). If they didn’t conform they would face heavy fines. Both Europe and the US have been focussing on how website cookies are being used – hence the introduction of these new laws although they are very different approaches.
European websites however police their own cookies but what about third-party cookies from advertisers? This will be more problematic to regulate under the European privacy law. The EU Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) wants an “icon” or “logo” on adverts that when clicked shows the data that is being transmitted. Will users look or care about this icon? probably not.
Click here (opens in new browser window) for the Chrome extension
Also, and most important of all, the DNT technology is equally dependent on third-party advertisers – so will they sign up to what is really a blacklist?. Not a chance. The other problems facing todays browsers is maintaining a healthy relationship with the ad networks (which generate large revenue and avoid the obvious legal issues) and avoiding the issue of ad developers looking to develop ways around the ‘Do Not Track’ features.
TIP: Find out how trackable your browser is with https://panopticlick.eff.org/
Safe surfing folks!