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Google confirms Do Not Track option for forthcoming Chrome browser

In a move that may have sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tions for online adver­tis­ing sales, Google has just con­firmed that by the end of the year, Google Chrome will fea­ture a “Do Not Track” pri­va­cy setting.

The deci­sion makes Chrome the last of the major browsers to com­mit to Do Not Track (DNT), with Inter­net Explor­er, Fire­fox and Safari already on board.

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy: a dou­ble-edged sword?

The new trend toward greater con­sumer pri­va­cy is like­ly to stim­u­late a good deal of cre­ative think­ing amongst every adver­tis­ing sales man­ag­er, search engine mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist and busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ag­er with a stake in inter­net adver­tis­ing.  And they’ll cer­tain­ly have their work cut out for them, as advances in tech­nol­o­gy bring new oppor­tu­ni­ties and new obsta­cles in equal measure.
If big data ana­lyt­ics opens a new door for dig­i­tal adver­tis­ers, will DNT begin clos­ing it again?

As we report­ed recent­ly, Microsoft’s deci­sion to intro­duce DNT as a default set­ting on IE10 imme­di­ate­ly fanned a wave of protest from the online adver­tis­ing world.  This prompt­ed the company’s Busi­ness Adver­tis­ing VP Rik van der Kooi to pub­licly recon­firm Microsoft’s com­mit­ment to dig­i­tal busi­ness advertising.

DNT: default vs. opt in

Google is yet to spell out exact­ly how the DNT option will be pre­sent­ed to cus­tomers.  How­ev­er, the company’s “Chromi­um” open source project (which feeds code into the brows­er) presents it as an “opt in” choice rather than “opt out”, which sug­gests that, like Apple’s Safari, the deci­sion to evade track­ing will remain in the hands of the cus­tomer.  This places it firm­ly in line with stan­dards set by the World Wide Web Con­sor­tium (W3C), which rejects the notion that brows­er man­u­fac­tur­ers can set DNT auto­mat­i­cal­ly for users.

DNT sends a sig­nal to HTTP web pages inform­ing them that the user does not want to be tracked by dig­i­tal adver­tis­ers.  One of its cre­ators, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­ate stu­dent Jonathan May­er, finds the cur­rent loca­tion of the set­ting on Chromi­um cum­ber­some (it’s cur­rent­ly under the Pri­va­cy option on the Set­tings screen).

Mayer’s ver­dict on Twit­ter runs, “Good: looks like Do Not Track will be in the Chrome pri­va­cy pref­er­ences.  Less good: have to click ‘Show advanced settings…to see them.”

It remains to be seen whether the option will become more user friend­ly by the time the brows­er moves from its Beta chan­nel to Stable.

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