Will Google's 'Do not track' button help?
The search king says it's serious about insuring users' privacy, but doubts persist.
Following a spate of online privacy controversies, Google (GOOG) (which has long touted its "don't be evil" mantra) and other Web companies have agreed to install a "Do not track" feature in their browsers.
The promise is meant to assure users of Google's Chrome browser (and its competitors) that they can surf the Web without being tracked by advertisers, hundreds of whom have also pledged to honor these privacy requests. The move was welcomed by the Obama administration, which simultaneously unveiled a privacy bill designed to protect Internet consumers.
But will the "Do not track" button really work?
No. The initiative is destined to fail. The "Do not track" button is "bound to come up short," says Brennon Slattery at PCWorld. The all-too-eager participation of Google and other major Internet privacy violators belies the fact that companies will find loopholes to continue tracking users, Slattery adds. Even under the latest agreement, companies can track you for "market research."
Important progress is being made. Google's button, probably a one-click check box on your browser, won't be perfect, says Rainey Reitman at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But this deal still "represents a powerful step forward." For instance, the agreement establishes new enforcement mechanisms. All 400 advertising companies participating in the deal are now accountable to the Federal Trade Commission for any infractions. That's nothing to sneeze at.
This is a calculated compromise. While consumers may have secured a victory at the expense of online advertisers, the industry also gained something valuable, says Michelle Quinn at Politico. It now has more time to show Congress that it can implement a privacy-protection system of its own. The alternative, many advertisers worried, was a much harsher federal law that would have crimped ad revenue even further. The "Do not track" button may well be a way for Web companies to dodge a bigger bullet, she adds.
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I went to Google's website to opt out of advertiser tracking - it worked for a couple of days then started back again! I feel like they are Cyber Stalking me! Maybe a class action lawsuit?
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