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23 Feb 12 Chrome to support Do Not Track privacy feature

Google found Do Not Track “interesting” but too vague, but now says the technology for blocking behavioral ad targeting is mature enough to use.

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Google has agreed to build support for Do Not Track into Chrome so its Web browser can tell
Web sites when users don’t want advertisers scrutinizing their behavior.

The Do Not Track technology modifies communications between browsers and servers so people can signal that they don’t want their browsing behavior to become the basis for ad targeting.

Mozilla developed Do Not Track and built it into its
Firefox Web browser. Microsoft followed suit not long after with Internet Explorer, and Apple has enabled it as an option for developers in
Safari 5.1.

Now Google’s getting on board, too, with Chrome.

“We plan to implement Do Not Track across our browser and advertising systems by the end of the year,” a Google representative said in a statement.

Why not earlier? Do Not Track wasn’t mature enough an idea for Google, apparently:

We have always thought the idea of DNT was interesting, but there didn’t seem to be a wide consensus on what “tracking” really means. We didn’t feel it was responsible to allow users to send a header in Chrome that largely had no effect and no agreed-upon meaning. Going forward, the scope is now clear, and we know that the header will be respected by the industry.

Do Not Track has been somewhat academic because it requires cooperation from Web sites to respect the feature. But Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and other Internet powers just pledged to support Do Not Track on their Web sites, making the feature much more important.

“We’re pleased to join a broad industry agreement to respect the ‘Do Not Track’ header in a consistent and meaningful way that offers users choice and clearly explained browser controls,” said Susan Wojcicki, Google’s senior vice president of advertising, in a statement.

The Do Not Track news is emerging in conjunction with the Obama administration’s proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights being unveiled later today.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the Chrome support for Do Not Track. It also said that Apple will make Do Not Track a standard feature in its forthcoming Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion operating system due to arrive this summer, the Journal also reported.

For the impatient, there’s also the Do Not Track Plus browser extension that works with Chrome, IE, Firefox, and Safari, and that will also support Opera later.

Mozillas explanation of the Do Not Track technique for letting people opt out of behaviorally targeted advertising.

Mozilla’s explanation of the Do Not Track technique for letting people opt out of behaviorally targeted advertising.


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