Firefox Features (Part 4) – Do-Not-Track

What Is It?

Update: Since we published this, it appears that DNT is gaining some traction in the wider community. In an article published on the BBC, on the 25th May, 2011, “Cookie law deferred for one year“, despite the EU getting tougher, UK websites still have time to plan what to do – but it’s running out. What are your thoughts? Let us know.

Do-Not-Track is a new feature in Firefox 4 that will allows users, in time, to opt out of behavioral advertising. It will allow us to tell sites that we do not want to be tracked, thereby giving us more control over what kind of information is stored about us by advertisers and marketers, hopefully giving us a more spam-free existence.According to the online choices, behavioural advertising is:

…a practice that is based on internet browsing activity and allows brands to deliver adverts to web users which reflect their interests.

The implementation in Firefox is a new header: DNT, that will be sent to all sites, when enabled in the browser preferences. This header will inform the site that the user does not wish to have their activity tracked on that particular site. As other sites have covered, in the short-term future, there will be little change, but as the number of sites that respect the header grow, the appreciation of the features benefits will grow.

There is no mandatory requirements for sites to participate and respect the header. But my feeling is that as the respective browser vendors implement and advertise the feature and users begin to appreciate their increasing ability to control intrusions in to their privacy, that uptake will increase.

Enabling Firefox Do-Not-Track

Enabling Firefox Do-Not-Track

How Do I Enable It?

Under the Advanced tab in Firefox 4 there is a new checkbox available in the Browsing section entitled “Tell web sites I do not want to be tracked”. When you enable this checkbox, the header will be sent. Very simple to turn on and off as desired.

Further Reading

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Matt's Pic About Matthew Setter

Matthew Setter, a passionate Australian, is the founder and chief-editor of Malt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @maltblue and find out more about him on the team page.

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