Tired Of Keeping Track
Kudos to Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, let us stipulate that this becomes a national trend, and soon…
Every major Internet browser has a feature that lets you tell a website that you don’t want it to collect personal information about you when you visit.
And virtually every website ignores those requests. Tracking your online activities — and using that data to tailor marketing pitches — is central to how Internet companies make money.
Now California’s attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, wants every site to tell you — in clear language — if and how it is respecting your privacy preferences. The guidelines, which will be published on Wednesday, are intended to help companies comply with a new state privacy law that went into effect on Jan. 1. That law requires sites to prominently disclose all their privacy practices, including how they respond to “do not track” requests.
“This guide is a tool for businesses to create clear and transparent privacy policies that reflect the state’s privacy laws and allow consumers to make informed decisions,” Ms. Harris said in a statement.
(click here to continue reading California Urges Websites to Disclose Online Tracking – NYTimes.com.)
Though this is a voluntary rule, and there are lots of lobbyists chewing on Congress-critters ears to block this practice from expanding, the publics’ opinion is very clear, so maybe by the time the aliens land, or the oceans reach the Midwest, we’ll have action:
The California guidelines for the Jan. 1 privacy law are voluntary. Other efforts to establish more binding privacy protections — either through federal or state laws or through industry self-regulation — have failed to win enough support to pass.
In an attempt to nudge the process along, two of the leading web browsers, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, began giving users the option of sending a signal that tells all websites they visit that they don’t want to be tracked. Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome later added similar options.
But despite pledges by the advertising and technology industries to find a way to honor such requests — and endless discussions at an industry standards group, the World Wide Web Consortium, that was supposed to come up with a common set of rules — little progress has been made. This month, a White House advisory group again called for limits on tracking.
Do Not Track
Today, virtually no site respects “do not track” requests coming from web browsers. The only major company that honors the signals is Twitter.
Yahoo, which was one of the first companies to respect “do not track” signals, announced last month that it would no longer do so. Part of the company’s turnaround strategy depends on personalizing its services and advertising, which requires — you guessed it — tracking you across the web.
For what it’s worth, I still use Ghostery, despite it breaking functionality of some websites like Crain’s Chicago, or Nordstroms…