The Electronic Frontier Foundation has teamed up with privacy group Disconnect and a coalition of internet companies to create a new, stronger standard for the Do Not Track (DNT) browser header.
Created in response to the growing trend for cross-site user tracking on the web, most modern browsers feature a Do Not Track setting which can be enabled in their options page. When switched on, the DNT header is sent with requests - which causes advertising companies, in theory at least, to disable their usual behavioural tracking systems which would otherwise follow a user between sites and monitor their behaviour for valuable commercial insights.
Teaming up with Disconnect, Medium, Mixpanel, AdBlock, and DuckDuckGo, the EFF's new DNT standard goes beyond the existing version, and the respective companies have already agreed to implement it. '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,
' claimed 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.
'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,”
' added Disconnect chief Casey Oppenheim, referring to companies campaigning against the DNT header or developing technologies which ignore or outright bypass it. 'Our hope is that this new DNT approach will protect a consumer’s right to privacy and incentivise advertisers to respect user choice, paving a path that allows privacy and advertising to coexist.
The EFF has published a guide to the voluntary code on its website
, but warns that 'not all websites honour DNT signals or EFF's DNT policy.