Google has ratcheted up the Do Not Track debate with its launch of Keep My Opt-Outs, an extension for download in Chrome that enables Internet users to opt out permanently from ad tracking cookies. Google acknowledged similar initiatives in the online ad space. It pointed to, as one example, the Network Advertising Initiative measure that lets users opt out of tracking for the purposes of personalizing advertisements. There are more than 50 member companies that offer such opt outs via these programs, including the top 15 largest ad networks in the U.S.
For all that, Google, said, technical issues have made implementing these opt-outs and controls difficult - hence its answer of providing an opt-out via a browser plugin. It lets the user permanently opt out of Google’s advertising cookie, even after the browser’s cookies are deleted. Google also built granular cookie controls into Chrome directly, and integrated Adobe Flash Player storage management into these controls. As a final touch, it also modified Chrome’s incognito mode to ensure that it applies to "Flash cookies" in addition to regular cookies.
Google is just the latest browser to offer this functionality. This week Mozilla announced it was getting set to release a Firefox 4 feature that will let users block tracking. This announcement follows one made by Microsoft late last year that it would offer tracking protection for its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser.
Last year the Federal Trade Commission called for the enactment of a Do Not Track systems via Web-browsing software that would broadcast people's desire not to be tracked. It might not have envisioned, though, the different approaches that the various developers are taking. Mozilla, for example, wants websites to include a special Do Not Track header, PC Magazine notes, while IE9's approach will be to a block list of known ad trackers to protect users' privacy.
Another problem, at least with Mozilla: advertisers don't have an incentive to participate without legislation, Darren Hayes, Ph.D, chair of the computer information systems program at Pace University told TechNewsWorld. "It's hard to see companies who also advertise trying to provide full cooperation to make this a success for Mozilla."
It is similar in the security space, Jennifer Bayuk, program director of Systems Security Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology told TechNewsWorld. "Other consortiums, like a group that promised to report security bugs in 30 days or so, have petered out. I don't see any inducement to use the Firefox do-not-track header except the good press that might come with it."