Do you remember at the beginning of last December when we told you about a little feature the FCC was looking to implement with browsers called Do Not Track? Sure you do. We called the blog Do Not Track: An Advertiser’s Nightmare—I’m still waiting to hear more about the Online Privacy Bill of Rights, too. But here’s the recap.
Privacy continues to be a huge issue on the internet right now. Nobody likes giving away more about themselves than they have to and the news is frequently full of stories about privacy leaks. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg, TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year for a company known for having privacy issues. Hold that thought. I suspect he’s too busy trying to figure out new ways for Facebook to sneak your phone number and other personal information to third parties.
Fortunately, the FCC either got wise to the fact people were looking at them for help because it’s really an issue or they found their balls on their own and decided to act. Do Not Track was born out of this and it essentially allows you, the internet user, to stop sites from reading, storing and, ultimately, passing on your personal information to advertisers.
In response to all of this, Google and Mozilla are introducing opt out features to their Chrome and Firefox browsers that will allow you to stop tailored ads based on your web surfing habits. Or will they? The fun little thing that most folks are going to miss with this, though—and it honestly sounds like a step in the right direction—is that for Firefox’s feature to work, the companies that track your movements have to agree to uphold the opt-out. Huh? An honor system? Really? Has anybody ever actually done business with an honest advertising company? It’s a bit of an oxymoron, I think, since advertisers exist to convince you in any way possible to buy things you don’t necessarily need.
So, it looks like we have some work to do with closing the kind of black hole of a loophole that currently exists before Do Not Track becomes a true reality. Perhaps legislative mandates? I’m betting those would be the honor system any day of the week provided they’re enforced.