Users requesting not to be tracked by web services are putting names like Google and Facebook in a tough position, according to web analysts. These services generate vast swathes of revenue through tracking, and face losing millions of dollars if they comply with their user’s requests to cease tracking their behaviour. Currently, customers can change their privacy setting to try and prevent themselves from being tracked, but it’s thought that some of these attempts are more effective than others. Google and Facebook are said to be ignoring “do not track” requests, and spokespeople for the companies claimed at the RSA conference in San Francisco that they weren’t convinced that many users actually knew what “do not track” meant.
A “Consumer Confusion Question”
Keith Enright of Google said that as there is no agreed standard for “do not track” in the industry, a “consumer confusion question” still loomed large. This could mean that even if a request is complied with, users may not get the results that they expect. Erin Egan of Facebook said that their plugins weren’t designed for advertising as much as they were orchestrated to personalise the user experience. Egan said that confusion would remain until an official standard was set by the World Wide Web Consortium.
A “Nuclear Strike” On Advertising?
The new Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 has its “do not track” setting switched on by default, to the chagrin of much of the advertising industry. Mozilla are said to be working on a new version of its browser which will enable blocking of third-party cookies, saying that such moves are being made due to public demand. Mike Zanies of the Internet Advertising Bureau described the move as a “a nuclear first strike against ad industry.” Mozilla responded to criticism by saying that it was only doing something that has been at the heart of Apple’s Safari browser for many years.