Chrome, Firefox Get 'Do Not Track' Mechanisms

Lora Bentley

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.


Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 24, 2011 5:41 AM Vanessa Vanessa  says:

I don't believe that Google and a bunch of advertisers who want to play along are the ultimate solution to online privacy.

By copying this tool, Google is attempting to be privacy-friendly in the typical Google manner.  By that, I mean that by blocking some -- but not all -- advertising technologies, what Google is really trying to do is gain competitive advantage over other advertising firms while telling consumers they're getting privacy protection. For example: Firm A uses cookies of some time, while Google uses advanced script technologies. Google distributes an add-on with "partial privacy protection" that blocks Firm A's cookies, but allows Google's scripts to run just as before -- now advertisers end up paying more money to Google instead of Firm A, while consumers' privacy is not at all enhanced.

For a while now, I've been using Abine's ChromeBlock, which has no such conflicts and is purely pro-consumer.  I love it. https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/epanfjkfahimkgomnigadpkobaefekcd

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