Arment Dietrich

Anti-Tracking Internet Browsers

By: Arment Dietrich | January 5, 2011 | 

Mozilla recently announced their new version of Firefox (Firefox 4) will include an anti-tracking or a ‘Do Not Track’ function allowing users to be in more control of what data is shown to them through Internet browsers.

Because of the recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) endorsement addressing advertisers to limit the amount and use of behavioral Web tracking, the FTC countered their declaration by reaching out to the Web developers asking them to include anti-tracking functions into their new software.

It sounds to me that we, as the users, are going to have a choice if we want our searches to not be tracked.  But wouldn’t you always want them not to be tracked?

According to Gallup, a data-driven news poll and public opinion research company, “about 85 percent of consumers surveyed said they want to be able to choose whether to be tracked as they surf.”

I can’t imagine going to Google, typing in my search of … ‘best plastic surgeons in New York City,’ seeing a ‘Do Not Track’ button and thinking, “na, I’m not going to press it.  I want people I don’t know to know that I’m getting work done so they can send me a bunch of crap on boob jobs.”

Some say this new FTC ruling and mechanism will ruin and possibly end the Internet advertising business.  Do you agree?  Does tracking benefit the user?  Will you always click the option to have the power?

Mozilla is claiming they are giving more power to their users when in fact if the FTC didn’t make their announcement, would we be seeing this feature?

It has been noted Microsoft is also working on these anti-tracking features for the Windows-based Internet Explorer 9.  So pick it up Safari, I love you most.


This reminds me of when the wild open Western US was closed down by fences. Things didn't change overnight, but slowly an era came to end end. When we look back on it much later the most common remark will be "Well, that had to happen <i>eventually</i>!"

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I have Fire Fox 4 but haven't used it much because I love the Read It Later Ad On and they don't have it yet for 4.0

That said I just wrote about this yesterday somewhere. I use Fire Fox with Ad Blocker Plus and No Scripts (prevents Java from running without permission). Mostly for safety from viruses. I get amazed on some sites how many networks run. Spin Sucks has 15!!!!!

But No Scripts while it can disable the Networks like DoubleClick it does not disable tracking networks aside from Google Analytics. Steve Smith of Media Post wrote last summer about the Ghostery Add on which does disable the Tracking Networks which each site has way too many. The problem is it is clunky. I was getting way too many permission prompts which drove me nuts.

I think this is a good development. My adopted industry of choice Advertising is not benevolent. If they could sell the inside of your eyelids to tattoo images of Coke they would. I know it has a value in a Capitalist Society but because Advertising runs on billing more and more their solutions always are 'Spend more, Place Ads in more Places, Follow the eyes, where people look we must be". And that is bad. I fight it and I am not a supporter of this Ethos.

If you have ever been to Vermont there are no billboards. I love Vermont for that!


I have been waiting for this day...

People have always been creeped out by the ability of marketers to track their online activities.

I once believed that tracking was extremely beneficial - who wouldn't want to see targeted ads on their screen? I'd rather have ads for clothing clog my page than ads for car parts.

Over time I realized that no matter if the ads are targeted or not, I am still going to ignore them... Even though I am online ALL the time, I don't click on banner ads for fear of spam or viruses. None of the ads actually appear to be worth my time.

If I do click on an ad, it is on a site I frequent on the regular and those businesses are supporters of that site. I know their placement is safe and their product is probably similar to, or at least relates to, what I'm already looking it.

Sooo, I think it's good news people now have the choice. I will hear a lot less complaining! Although, I am very interested to see how this affects Internet Advertising overall.

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