Since the Federal Trade Commission has indicated that "do not track" regulations are on the horizon for online advertisers, companies that offer Web browsers have been quick to jump on the bandwagon, reporting that the latest iterations of their offerings will include some kind of "do not track" mechanism.
Microsoft was the first, announcing early this month that Internet Explorer 9 would include a feature the company calls "tracking protection." Opting to use the mechanism will allow IE users to limit the ability of third parties to track their browsing activity. At the time, Microsoft's VP for Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch explained users would also be able to create lists of
web addresses that the browser will visit (or "call") only if the consumer visits them directly by clicking on a link or typing their address.
Monday, The Washington Post reported Mozilla has released plans for similar functionality in coming versions of Firefox, and Google has already released an extension for its Chrome browser.
The Chrome extension, called "Keep My Opt-Outs" lets users permanently opt-out of behavioral advertising and, like its name implies, keeps the opt-outs with the browser even after the user has cleared its cookies. According to Google, using the extension will not interfere with Web browsing, but the ads that are served may be repetitive or irrelevant.
Mozilla, on the other hand, is working on an HTTP header that will allow users to alert all websites that they wish to opt out of online behavioral advertising. Mozilla's FAQ on the header reads in part:
It is the first step in developing a setting that clearly gives users a voice and a way to communicate with websites.