New Do-Not-Track Standard Promises Better User Privacy Protection

Stronger “Do-Not-Track” settings to protect the privacy of users’ online web browsing were recently announced by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in coalition with other internet and privacy companies, in an attempt to encourage companies to respect users’ choice not to be tracked online.

The DNT (Do-Not-Track) preference can be enabled from any major browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, and signals websites to opt out of tracking user activity. Advertisers use tracking to profile and target users with relevant ads, so the information collected is often distributed to a vast network of data brokers and tracking services.

“We are greatly pleased that so many important Web services are committed to this powerful new implementation of Do Not Track, giving their users a clear opt-out from stealthy online tracking and the exploitation of their reading history,” said EFF Chief Computer Scientist Peter Eckersley. “These companies understand that clear and fair practices around analytics and advertising are essential not only for privacy but for the future of online commerce.”

Companies or domain owners who want to comply with best practices in privacy standards and respect users’ opt-out will have to post the policy on their website to notify privacy protection software that it’s compliant with DNT policy. To this end, third-party embeds are less likely to be blocked.

Although the new DNT standard is not intended to work as an ad-blocker or tracker blocker, the Electronic Frontier Foundation does claim that its meant to work in tandem with these technologies.

“The failure of the ad industry and privacy groups to reach a compromise on DNT has led to a viral surge in ad blocking, massive losses for Internet companies dependent on ad revenue, and increasingly malicious methods of tracking users and surfacing advertisements online,” said Disconnect CEO Casey Oppenheim. “Our hope is that this new DNT approach will protect a consumer’s right to privacy and incentivize advertisers to respect user choice, paving a path that allows privacy and advertising to coexist.”

The full body of the DNT policy can be found here and domain owners who want to adhere to it are encouraged to read the scope, requirements and exceptions outlined in the document.

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