Home >> Linux >> ‘Do Not Track,’ the Privacy Tool Used By Millions of People, Doesn’t Do Anything

‘Do Not Track,’ the Privacy Tool Used By Millions of People, Doesn’t Do Anything

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: When you go into the privacy settings on your browser, there’s a little option there to turn on the “Do Not Track” function, which will send an invisible request on your behalf to all the websites you visit telling them not to track you. A reasonable person might think that enabling it will stop a porn site from keeping track of what she watches, or keep Facebook from collecting the addresses of all the places she visits on the internet, or prevent third-party trackers she’s never heard of from following her from site to site. According to a recent survey by Forrester Research, a quarter of American adults use “Do Not Track” to protect their privacy. (Our own stats at Gizmodo Media Group show that 9% of visitors have it turned on.) We’ve got bad news for those millions of privacy-minded people, though: “Do Not Track” is like spray-on sunscreen, a product that makes you feel safe while doing little to actually protect you.

Yahoo and Twitter initially said they would respect it, only to later abandon it. The most popular sites on the internet, from Google and Facebook to Pornhub and xHamster, never honored it in the first place. Facebook says that while it doesn’t respect DNT, it does “provide multiple ways for people to control how we use their data for advertising.” (That is of course only true so far as it goes, as there’s some data about themselves users can’t access.) From the department of irony, Google’s Chrome browser offers users the ability to turn off tracking, but Google itself doesn’t honor the request, a fact Google added to its support page some time in the last year. […] “It is, in many respects, a failed experiment,” said Jonathan Mayer, an assistant computer science professor at Princeton University. “There’s a question of whether it’s time to declare failure, move on, and withdraw the feature from web browsers.” That’s a big deal coming from Mayer: He spent four years of his life helping to bring Do Not Track into existence in the first place. Only a handful of sites actually respect the request — the most prominent of which are Pinterest and Medium (Pinterest won’t use offsite data to target ads to a visitor who’s elected not to be tracked, while Medium won’t send their data to third parties.)


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