Tuesday, 18 September 2012

What Good is the Do-Not-Track Button?

Essentially there already exist measures within your popular browsers that can help you surf the internet free of cookie hassle (by cookie hassle I mean the stuff that helps websites track your online presence and movement). So why is this button gaining so much traction? Some people have gone as far as to say that the button is just an idiots way out of getting tracked. Tracking for Dummies, if it were ever written would probably have a chapter on this button. But there’s a catch – the button isn’t the ultimate solution to the tracking problem. In fact a site that wants to track you will do it anyway regardless of how icky  you feel about it. Cookies can be used to trace out even the tiniest details about the things you like – see that Victoria’s Secret advert following you around? Guess how it knows you like lingerie…. Yup, your cookies are doing all the kissing and telling for you. At the end of the day all this hoopla about how the button is going to be a revolution seems like a big joke. The button can only forward a request for the user to not be tracked, this is no way implies that the website is going to turn around and say “Yes, sir!” and back off. It just means that a formal request was sent forward, that’s it. So what should one really do to stay safe online? Opt for encryption and encrypted sessions on the internet. Don’t save your data in your WebPages i.e. get rid of auto fills and other such conveniences that save you a few seconds online and potentially help unwanted people access your data, and in general just be smart about your online presence.

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