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5 Years Later, 'Do Not Track' System Ineffective 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the never-track-me-unless-you-feel-like-tracking-me dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from ComputerWorld: "In 2009, a few Internet privacy advocates developed an idea that was supposed to give people a way to tell websites they don't want to be monitored as they move from website to website. The mechanism, which would eventually be built into all the major browsers, was called Do Not Track. ... But today, DNT hangs by a thread, neutered by a failure among stakeholders to reach agreement. Yes, if you turn it on in your browser, it sends a signal in the form of an HTTP header to Web companies' servers. But it probably won't change what data they collect. That's because most websites either don't honor DNT — it's currently a voluntary system — or they interpret it in different ways. Another problem — perhaps the biggest — is that Web companies, ad agencies and the other stakeholders have never reached agreement on what "do not track" really means."
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5 Years Later, 'Do Not Track' System Ineffective

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  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:23AM (#47065775)

    "Cookie tracking means you're getting spammed with ads you DO want, instead of the ads you don't want."

    Don't care. I don't see any ads, 'wanted' or not.

    Adblock+Ghostery+a Refererblocker works for me.

  • Re:"A Contract" (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:53AM (#47066115) Homepage

    People just don't want the web equivalent of a radio collar attached to them. They do not want to be stalked by creepy advertisers.

    And for me, that is one of the main reasons I quite aggressively block as much of this shit as possible.

    Between companies like bright cove, scorecard research, and the literally dozens of tracking companies on the average web page, I have found I simply won't use the web without things like NoScript, and Ghostery, and as many as I can find for the browser I'm using.

    Some web pages literally have 25 (or more in some cases) external entities who want to track what I do .. Facebook, Linked in, Google Analytics, and countless piles of crap.

    I don't give a crap about your revenue model or your social media campaign -- I sure as hell didn't sign up for 50 entities I've never heard of knowing every site I visit.

    Thankfully, there are plenty of really good privacy extensions out there. The more you have, the better. Because it's astounding just how much complete shit is embedded in every page -- which is not only bleeding out your personal information, but using up your bandwidth.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:00AM (#47066225)
    Swap Ghostery for Disconnect. The dev behind Ghostery sells metrics data to advertisers which helps them target their advertising. []
  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:12AM (#47066413) Journal
    "Do Not Call" is enforced by law, you can sue for violations. You can't sue over violations of "Do Not Track" and so it is useless.
  • by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:34AM (#47066693)

    Use RequestPolicy. It makes both AdBlock and Ghostery obsolete -- by referencing 3rd party servers on an opt-in rather than opt-out basis. It might be a bit tedious to use the first time you visit a new website, but almost always it's obvious what needs to be unblocked.

  • by mmell (832646) <> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:59AM (#47066959)
    The author of the above mentioned software has been banned from multiple public participation websites due to intentional abuses of those forums. His repeated, vociferous cyberstalking of anybody who is in any way critical of his software's value is (to me) an indication of his mental instability; using software written by an individual who cannot be counted upon to behave in a socially acceptable manner is begging disaster.

    Too bad - this is precisely this kind of situation where hostfiles can represent a good technical measure to counteract tracking behavior. It's a shame that this particular piece of software is authored by an unreliable individual. While hostfiles are a valid and effective technical countermeasure to website tracking, the author of this particular hostfile manager has often and repeatedly displayed his instability in multiple online forums. Simply google on Alexander Peter Kowalski. I believe any intelligent research will convince users that permitting software written by APK to run in kernelspace is dangerous at best. The software may or may not be just fine, but the software's author has already demonstrated that he cannot be trusted to make rational, acceptable decisions.

    Fortunately, the cyberstalking behavior APK has repeatedly demonstrated is almost certainly a compulsive, involuntary behavior on his part. I have no doubt that soon he will demonstrate fully the exact instability I have pointed out here. C'mon, Allie - post a bunch of links to your past posts, or call me "bigmouth" again. I'd say pick the most bellicose and insulting of your past posts; but nearly all of your cyberstalking is consistently offensive and insulting, indicative of a juvenile intellect. Instead of contstantly reposting the same insults and invective, give us something new to gauge your mental state from.


  • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:46PM (#47068417) Homepage

    There is a difference between serving advertisements and tracking the customer.

    You can still show advertisements without employing tactics to track a user's movement across the web to gather demographic information on their viewing habits and interests. Put up a website about computers and solicit advertisements from computer manufacturers (Dell, Apple, etc.) and the like. Monitor your server logs to see which stories are read most and gauge what topics are found most interesting from there. If your website has a social aspect, keep tabs on the discussed issues and if there are particular hot-topics, use that to fine-tune your ad-stream (e.g., don't advertise Microsoft Windows on Slashdot). All this information can be gleaned without following your users to other websites or compiling databases of information about the interests of each particular user.

    That is what Do Not Track is about. It is an insistence that we, the viewers, don't want to be cataloged, our habits followed across the web and then sold to anyone with a large enough wallet. Many of us /also/ do not like advertising itself, but that is a separate issue (your argument would be more pertinent against ad-blocking). Websites can (and some do) survive well without relying on intrusive data-monitoring of individual users. Unfortunately, the alternative has become both too convenient and too lucrative for some businesses to resist. They have put money over morals again and I have little sympathy for them if ad-blockers and anti-tracking software makes their tactics less profitable.

Bus error -- please leave by the rear door.