By Cara Garretson
Both Google and Mozilla
have recently announced plans to lets users keep ad cookies from tracking them
when using their browsers.
Following the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC)’s proposal for a ‘do-not-track’ mechanism announced in
December that would let browser users choose whether to allow for the
collection of search and browsing data , Google and Mozilla have announced
their own self-regulatory efforts regarding their browsers.
mechanism is an extension to its Chrome browser that lets users permanently
opt-out from receiving targeted on-line ads from all of the ad networks that
offer such choice, which includes the largest 15 ad networks in the U.S., according
to a Google blog post(http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2011/01/keep-your-opt-outs.html). Called Keep My Opt Outs, the extension goes
beyond earlier opt-out efforts by advertising companies that proved challenging
because if users who opted out of targeted ads from networks cleared their
browser cookies, those settings would be lost, too, according to Google. That
older model would also require users to update their settings every time
companies offered new products with opt-out features.
“A better `Do Not Track’
mechanism is a browser extension that means you can easily opt out of
personalized advertising from all participating ad networks only once and store
that setting permanently,” reads Google’s blog post.
Google’s Keep My Opt Outs,
which is available now for download, lets Chrome users permanently opt out of
ad tracking from all companies that offer the option. Google warns that once
installed, the plug-in will change the browsing experience so that users may
see the same online ads repeatedly, and aren’t likely to see ads that are
‘highly relevant.’ Otherwise, says the company, the plug-in shouldn’t interfere
with the browsing experience.
Google says it’s working
to make the plug-in work with other browsers as well, and the code is available
as open source so that other developers can extend the extension’s
Mozilla this week also
announced do-not-track capabilities for its Firefox browser that takes a
“The web is evolving
quickly in how information about people is collected, used and shared online.
We believe it’s crucial to put people in control of their personal web
interactions and experiences,“ reads a blog post on the topic
Firefox’s new feature will let browser
users set a preference that broadcasts their opt-out status of third-party,
ad-based tracking. This is achieved by the browser transmitting a ‘Do Not
Track’ HTTP header with every click or page view in Firefox, according to the
“We believe the header-based approach has
the potential to be better for the web in the long run because it is a clearer
and more universal opt-out mechanism than cookies or blacklists,” the post
reads. Specifically, Mozilla says the header-based approach is less complex,
easy to locate and use, and more persistent than cookie-based solutions, while
also taking the onus off users to find and load lists of ad networks and
advertisers. Mozilla says this approach also follows the intent of the FTC’s
However, Mozilla notes that in order for
this header-based approach to work, both the browser and the web site must
implement it. “Mozilla recognizes the chicken and egg problem and we are taking
the step of proposing that this feature be considered for upcoming releases of
Firefox,” reads the post.
The do-not-track header is being proposed
as a feature in future versions of Firefox.
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