I Promise Not To Track You

Wanting to protect consumers from receiving targeted ads based on their behavior isn't new, but earlier this week Google and Mozilla separately announced browser tools to block this type of activity across the Web.

While Google released the Chrome extension Keep My Opt-Outs, Mozilla said it would continue to work on a tool added to the Firefox browser.

In a recent blog post Alex Fowler, Mozilla's technology and privacy officer, explains the "first of many steps" the company is taking to allow users to opt out of behavioral targeting: "a feature that allows users to set a browser preference that will broadcast their desire to opt-out of third party, advertising-based tracking by transmitting a Do Not Track HTTP header with every click or page view in Firefox" -- which owns about 20% of the global browser market, according to NetApplications.

Let's not forget that in December Microsoft announced Tracking Protection for Internet Explorer 9. The tool relies on lists users create of the sites in which they do not want to share information.

The downside, of course, to deleting or turning off tracking tools is that it gives us more irrelevant ads. No one's opposed to transparency and control, but would most Internet users prefer to be tracked -- to or pay for content?

Google, which owns about 10% of the global browser market, according to NetApplications, warns that installing the opt-out extension will likely create a cycle where the same ads repeatedly get served up -- a small price to pay, some believe, for keeping a little privacy and not having their habits tracked and recorded.

The companies building browsers simply want to integrate the privacy principles requested by the Federal Trade Commission. It's the idea that companies need to build into products consumer privacy features.

And just for good measure, allow me to call your attention to Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28. Yes, no fooling. ThePrivacyProjects.org, Intel, Google, Microsoft, and VISA sponsor the day. Will you celebrate?

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4 comments about "I Promise Not To Track You".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , January 26, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.

    You'll live.

  2. Randy Pickard from Exceptional Shopping Sites , January 26, 2011 at 2:46 p.m.

    Laurie -A point that you touch upon that may have a significant impact on online advertising is that this change will inhibit frequency capping when serving ads to users that opt out of tracking. Banner blindness is already widespread, and it could become even worse among users that opt out of tracking if they are served the same ads repeatedly.

  3. Merri Grace McLeroy from Integrated Marketing Strategies LLC , January 27, 2011 at 12:27 p.m.

    Given that the search engines are in the ad sales and behavioral tracking business, it is doubtful most consumers will never be made aware of these new privacy choices. Interestingly, this effort to protect the privacy of consumers will simply increase the amount of irrelevant ads received. It's unfortunate the privacy patrol doesn't recognize the difference between providing better consumer services and invasive, unscrupulous voyeurism.

  4. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , January 27, 2011 at 9:01 p.m.

    This is pretty smart by Google. 1] They make money in Paid search first and foremost. So if ads are less effective because tracking is off, people have to search. 2] They make money with an ad network. The less effective the ads, the more Brands must spend to reach people. 3] Firefox. Adblocker ad on is downloaded 1 mil times per week. If they get people to come to Chrome from Firefox they can ensure selling ads inventory to these new eyeballs.

    Wicked smart huh?