Whenever an average consumer is confronted with the idea of “opting in,” typically they don’t bother. They are not aware they have a choice, it’s too complicated to follow through or they simply don’t understand the importance.
A great example of this is Facebook’s introduction of HTTPS via opt-in back in January. In a post on the Facebook developer blog, Naitik Shah points out that 9.6 million Facebook users are now using HTTPS on the service.
This sounds like a big number, but it is less than two percent of Facebook users, a rather dismal example of why security and privacy should be the default, not the alternative.
Similarly this week there has been talk of the ad industry’s voluntary do-not-track HTTP header. At a privacy conference Mozilla’s Alex Fowler noted that only one to two percent of Firefox users have enabled the do-not-track option.
Introduced in Firefox 4, the do-not-track option is rather difficult to locate. Fowler said that in future updates the do-not-track option will “be much more prominently displayed.”
Internet Explorer 9 includes a do-not-track feature that is even better hidden. To enable this functionality, you need to click the Sprocket -> Safety -> Tracking Protection -> Your Personalized List -> Enable.
Chrome users are on their own and don’t have an integrated option to enable do-not-track. Keith Enright, Google’s senior privacy counsel, said to the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t know what a do-not-track header is, I don’t know what it means.”
Mozilla announced that the new beta version of Firefox for Google Android will support do-not-track, making it the first mobile browser to support the option. The question is, does it matter?
Currently less than ten percent of ads are displaying an icon indicating to users that their personal information is being collected. Very few advertising companies seem to be voluntarily honoring the do-not-track headers, which may stymie the industry’s efforts to avoid government regulation.
Senators Kerry and McCain are co-sponsoring a bill in the US Senate titled “Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011” which would require advertisers to respect users’ privacy or find themselves in violation of the law.
10 comments on “Do-not-track off to a slow start, Mozilla adds support for Android”
Why has Firefox put it under "Advanced" and not "Privacy"?
Doesn't it seem more obvious as a PRIVACY tool
It's been moved to Privacy in 5.0b1. I wouldn't call this "much more prominently displayed" though… Why isn't it checked by default, by the way? Who wants to be tracked?
It will be moved in Firefox 5 which will be out in a few week time.
Can one disable tracking in Safari?
Not yet. It appears that they will introduce the feature in the version of Safari that will ship with the Lion operating system.
Opera does not currently support the proposed do-not-track header that the advertising industry is suggesting. There is a similar privacy protection function, but it is not compliant with the standard.
Thanks for the information. Most Indian users from the metropolitan cities are using the https feature thanks to word of mouth, but the privacy feature 'do not track' is largely unknown.
It should be opt-out really and be on by default
I was of the understanding that one can't DISABLE tracking at all. The "Do Not Track" option is a FLAG, and we are still at the mercy of the site to choose to honor that request or not. Is there now a way to actually PREVENT tracking through a browser? If I REALLY don't want to be tracked I use Tor. "Do Not Track" seems pretty worthless to me since the ones I'd truly care if they tracked me won't honor the request anyway.
Thanks for the password 😉