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Advertisers Never Intended To Honor DNT 308

First time accepted submitter oldlurker writes "After much discussion where many hoped a voluntary Do Not Track standard was agreed with advertisers, it turns out the advertisers already had a very different interpretation than most of us on how to practice it: 'Two big associations, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Digital Advertising Alliance, represent 90% of advertisers. Downey says those big groups have devised their own interpretation of Do Not Track. When the servers controlled by those big companies encounter a DNT=1 header, says Downey, "They have said they will stop serving targeted ads but will still collect and store and monetize data."'"
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Advertisers Never Intended To Honor DNT

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  • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @09:42AM (#41427623)

    "Please don't eat me, brother Wolf!" cried the Rabbit. "Aw, all right." said the Wolf, rolling his eyes. "I'll just trade you to brother Fox for some hens. Is that ok with you?"

  • by Enter the Shoggoth ( 1362079 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @09:43AM (#41427633)

    Isn't that missing the entire point? Or is the do-not-track specification one of those Orwellian-titled things whereby the net effect is exactly the opposite of the name?

    No it's just that advertisers are a bunch of assholes who think that free speech = unfettered right to harass everyone even when they're sleeping, eating, screwing, working or taking a dump.

    It's about time people woke up and realised that there should be limits to what _both_ companies and governments aught to be able to do.

  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @09:44AM (#41427653)

    Wasn't the whole point of this to encourage advertisers to not track

    Yes, that is the idea. However, DNT is entirely voluntary. And if you really thought that advertisers were going to honor DNT, then you are extremely stupid.

  • why adblock exists (Score:4, Insightful)

    by myNameIsNotImportant ( 592769 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @09:53AM (#41427709)
    and that is why i use and will continue to use adblock. the advertisers have given me no reason to trust them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23, 2012 @10:14AM (#41427853)

    In any other civilised nation, the government. But of course in America, that'll never happen

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Sunday September 23, 2012 @10:27AM (#41427965)

    Why should they honour it? It's the browser which is voluntarily giving out identifiable data! Sort your browser out if you don't want to be tracked.

    DNT is the same as saying passwords aren't required, because there's a "do not impersonate me" standard.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @10:29AM (#41427985)

    I don't think I ever understood the point in the first place.

    A polite request to please not track you, made to an industry that exists solely to make money out of tracking people?

    Yeah, that was going to work...

  • In other news... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epp_b ( 944299 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @10:47AM (#41428133)
    Water is wet, grass is green and space is big.

    Honestly, you have to be quite naive and downright stupid to expect anything else.

    If you provide your attacker (advertisers), who have a vested interest in ignoring the flag, with the means to ignore the flag, it's not going to work.

    If Alice asks Charlie, a known snooper, to deliver a message to Bob and she expects Charlie not to take a peek, it's going to take more than writing "don't look, Charlie, tee hee hee!" at the top of the message.

    This was dumb idea from the very beginning and destined to explode on the launch pad. Besides, browsers already have an in-built functionality to reject third-party cookies, which pretty much takes care of the problem. Yes, there are some clever and covert ways of doing it without cookies (hidden iframes, forms and whatnot), but there's no reason browsers can't reject those on a whitelist basis (some online software will use these hidden elements legitimately).
  • by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:00AM (#41428231)

    So you see no difference between an elected administration and a private entity with no democratic oversight?

    At the end of the day, the reason why companies are let doing perfectly dickish things in the US is people believe that the government would be worse. And so vote for people who promise they'll let companies be dicks.

    The stupid, it hurts.

  • by FlynnMP3 ( 33498 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:22AM (#41428383)

    Consider the alternative. Would you rather pay for the 10 or so sites that you visit on a daily basis? That's been tried and tried and tried and has always failed so far. Maybe someday in the future the magic combination of micro transactions and transparency will be stumbled upon, but it hasn't happened yet. That, and the advertising forces still believe that advertising works. A lot of people don't care about being advertised to, and in some cases they actually prefer it. So for significantly large values of stupidity or apathy, the advertising companies aren't wrong.

    The technically able and the ones who care about being subjected to unhealthy amounts of lowest common denominator dreck have tools they use (Firefox, adblock plus, noscript, ghostery, etc.) to avoid the worst of it. Fortunately for them, their mostly free and unfettered access is payed for mainly by those who don't and the small percentage of overlap between the 2 sets.

    Being a geek is fun and in this case healthier.

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:24AM (#41428397)

    "Social compact" - what pretentious bollocks.

    Your browser is leaking your info - fix that. Trying to stop people taking advantage is so utterly the wrong approach here, its the same as any security related issue - make your end as secure as you possibly can, because the world is a big wide open and very bad place. You cannot control the other end, but you can control what you are leaking.

    Also, pathetic hacks like DNT do not work even when backed with legal status - the internet is not one jurisdiction, but your browser certainly is... fix your data leakage at the source, not at the receiving end.

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Sunday September 23, 2012 @11:57AM (#41428643)

    Stop accepting cookies from anyone except the first origin website for a start - advertisers use their own cookies to track you across sites, using site specific cookies makes tracking you across sites extremely hard. Session cookies aren't an issue - if you are using my website, you don't have any leg to stand on when asking me to not track your usage of my website.

    Remove a lot of information from the user agent string. Take it back to browser name, major number, minor number.

    Stop allowing plug ins etc to add user agent detail or request header lines.

    Treat third party images the same way as cookies.

    Rigidly enforce plugin security, so things like Flash cannot maintain cookies etc outside of the browsers control.

    Etc etc etc.

    There are plenty of things that the browsers need to fess up and fix before DNT can be considered to not be a joke - *asking* third parties not to do "X" when you are leaking that data voluntarily to them each time you request an object is just stupid.

    If this was anything else, the onus would be on the one leaking the information - if your medical records were being leaked through system insecurity then the one being decried here on Slashdot would be the source of the leak, not the recipient! Why is this any different?

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @12:03PM (#41428695)
    How about we just go back to pushing ad blocking software? The point of DNT was to show that ad blocking is not necessary, because advertisers will respect users if they can just get a little feedback. Now we see that that is untrue, so let's ditch DNT and get back to ABP etc.

    The whole argument for DNT is that advertisers will be compelled to follow it, because if they do not do so then users will start blocking ads. Advertisers are not respecting DNT, so we have to deploy ad blockers now, or else DNT was truly pointless.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday September 23, 2012 @04:25PM (#41430631)

    Your browser is leaking your info - fix that.

    Good idea.

    Trying to stop people taking advantage is so utterly the wrong approach here, its the same as any security related issue - make your end as secure as you possibly can, because the world is a big wide open and very bad place. You cannot control the other end, but you can control what you are leaking.

    Of course you can, and should pass laws and attempt to control the other end as best you can. What planet do you come from?

    Because down here, we take a two pronged approach to problems like this... to deal with home invasions we invented walls and doors and locks and keys and motion sensors and alarms, and so on. You want to be secure in your home, secure it.

    But we didn't stop there, we also made home invasions illegal, tresspassing, break and enter, and so on.

    Why do you advocate only doing half when it comes to the internet?

    pathetic hacks like DNT do not work even when backed with legal status - the internet is not one jurisdiction,

    So, many of the big advertising firms are based out of this country, or have a physical presence in the country, and many more operate out of countries we have treaties with. Sure that doesn't reach absolutely everyone out there, but the reach is pretty decent. Any particular reason we shouldn't bother at all?

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday September 24, 2012 @05:31AM (#41434531) Homepage Journal

    "You are STEALING content! How do the content creators get paid?!?"

    Content creators do not have a right to have their business model work out. Besides, most ads pay per click, not per view these days (though both kinds still exist).

    There are many other business models. An online game of mine (BattleMaster []) runs entirely on donations, for example. I'm very proud of having been able to run this game for 12 years now, and there has never been a single banner or pop-up ad on the site. Not in the game, not in the wiki, not in the forum.
    Does it allow me to quit my day job? Nope. Does it pay for its own bills (hosting, etc.)? Absolutely.

    There are Freemium models, there are subscription models like The Onion [] where you get a few free articles and then they ask you to subscribe. And, of course, there is the old "You want something? Pay up and you get it." system. You know, the one that mankind has been using for a few thousand years?

    The Internet has been and still is experimenting with various ways of making money. If yours doesn't work out, stop whining and start taking the possibility into consideration that your business model is flawed.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes