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An Overview of the Do Not Track Debate 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-means-no dept.
jonathanmayer writes "The Verge is carrying an accurate and accessible overview of the Do Not Track debate. Quoting: 'With the fate of our beloved internet economy allegedly at stake, perhaps it's a good time to examine what Do Not Track is. How did the standard come to be, what does it do, and how does it stand to change online advertising? Is it as innocuous as privacy advocates make it sound, or does it stand to jeopardize the free, ad-supported internet we've all come to rely on?' The issues surrounding Do Not Track can be difficult to understand, owing to rampant rhetoric and spin. This article unpacks the tracking technology, privacy concerns, economic questions, and political outlook. Full disclosure: I'm quoted."
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An Overview of the Do Not Track Debate

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 12, 2012 @04:59PM (#41635711)

    DNT is useless. You WILL be tracked if you give sites information that is useful in tracking you. The very best you can do is chase the tracking out of your legal jurisdiction and into other countries or underground.

    The only effective way to stop tracking is client side. It's like the analog of MMPORG games, where the client cannot be trusted, because it must be assumed to be in malicious hands. Here, the server cannot be trusted not to track you, because it must be assumed to be in malicious hands.

    DNT is actively harmful, because it makes tech-illiterates think that if they set it in their browser, they will not be tracked. We have already seen that is not the case.

  • Re:Don't care. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:08PM (#41635853) Journal

    Who cares? Adblock; Ghostery; RandomUserAgent; and always, always, ALWAYS lie when asked for things like your DOB or zip code.

    Have fun fulling your DB with useless crap trying to "track" me, Marketers.

    Be careful that, in your efforts to resist tracking, you do not accidentally make your browser far more atypical than it would otherwise have been...

    I've personally found the EFF's little http://panopticlick.eff.org/ [eff.org] test to be quite eye-opening(and probably not representative of the state of the art in tracking, since the guys you really have to worry about get paid for coming up with clever new techniques). Doing unusual things can substantially increase the unusualness of your browser's signature and behavior and make it more likely that you'll stand out of the crowd, albeit not quite as easily as if you just have a doubleclick cookie with a GUID embedded.

  • "Fate of economy" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dunge (922521) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:11PM (#41635893)
    If the economy depends on private corporations analyzing the behaviors of citizens, fuck the economy. Seriously, people will still buy the things they need without having ads thrown in their faces every 2 seconds.
  • Re:Don't care. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:16PM (#41635991)

    Exactly.

    The whole premise behind DNT is stupid. Trust marketers to respect a flag in your browser? Seriously? If these people gave a single, pathetic thought about what consumers did or did not want, they'd be out of a career.

    AdBock/Ghostery/NoScript/etc means you don't have to trust any website not to track anything.

  • by Beerdood (1451859) on Friday October 12, 2012 @05:23PM (#41636113)
    Exactly, DNT is useless and the whole concept may have been deliberately designed to be useless. A little header where "DNT=1" in the html and... Presto! No more tracking!

    Except that there's no way to actually enforce that companies won't track
    Except that we still won't know if our browsers will give out our information even with this flag on
    Except that [the Digital Advertising Alliance plainly said that it "does not require companies to honor DNT," ]
    Except that there's too much money at stake to just prevent sites from gathering your data. Even if your data is anonymized (meaning you set the flag on, and you don't see targeted ads as a result) - there's no guarantee that your data isn't still being collected by 3rd parties from the sites you go to. This is why there was such a fuss over the decision to make IE10 do-not-track's setting off by default. The only way you can guarantee your data isn't being used is to prevent it from being sent in the first place, or somehow falsify the data being sent back to the server

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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