‘Do-not-track’ button: Google, others agree to privacy setting on web browsers


Google, along with 400 internet companies, has agreed to support a "do-not-track" button that will give web users more control over their personal data online, the Wall Street Journal reported

The Digital Advertising Alliance, which represents the internet businesses, announced Thursday that the new button will be embedded in most web browsers and implemented within nine months, Slate reported.  

“We’re pleased to join a broad industry agreement to respect the ‘do-not-track’ header in a consistent and meaningful way that offers users choice and clearly explained browser controls,” Google Senior Vice President of Advertising Susan Wojcicki said in a statement, Bloomberg reported

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"Do-not-track" is similar to the Do Not Call registry, which lets people opt out of receiving telemarketing calls, the Huffington Post reported. Users who activate "do-not-track" will block their browsing history from being sent to third parties. It will also prevent information from being used to customize ads according to people's search habits.

However, web users' personal data will still be used for some purposes, including market research, product development, and law enforcement, the WSJ reported. The "do-not-track" button also will not block Facebook and other social media companies from tracking their members through "Like" buttons and other functions.

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Additionally, people who use Google's search engine while signed into their Gmail accounts will still be tracked by Google, even if their browser is set to "do not track," Consumer Reports explained in a blog post.

"That's because Google doesn't need to rely on the browser to know who you are; you're signed into your account," according to the post. 

"It's a good start," Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the WSJ. "But we want you to be able to not be tracked at all if you so choose."

The "do-not-track" button has been debated heavily for over two years, when the Federal Trade Commission first called for its adoption, the WSJ reported. Mozilla's Firefox browser was the first web browser to add a "do-not-track" option early last year, according to the Journal. 

The FTC's Chairman Jon Leibowitz applauded the industry's move as a "very important step forward," and added the FTC would enforce compliance with the privacy regulations, WSJ reported. 

The "do-not-track" announcement is part of the proposed legislation for a consumer privacy "bill of rights" that Obama introduced on Thursday, the Huffington Post reported.

The proposed bill has seven principles to enforce users' rights online, such as informing internet users of how their data is being used, making sure all consumer data is handled securely, and allowing internet users to exercise control over how their data is used, according to the Huffington Post. 

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