First proposed in 2009, “Do Not Track” was a well-intentioned effort to create an HTTP header protocol that would automatically notify websites that the visitor was opting out of personal data sharing. Spotty uptake has made it a tool of very limited use; a new proposed update to it called “Global Privacy Control” looks to refresh the concept by focusing on data that is shared specifically for sale to third parties and by getting it into emerging state and national privacy legislation.
Making “Do Not Track” work
“Do Not Track” was not an abject failure in the sense that nearly every major browser supports it; the problem was always that the protocol always required voluntary uptake by websites, many of whom predictably opted not to incorporate it.
Global Privacy Control is headed up by Ashkan Soltani (former privacy researcher for the FTC) and backed by a coalition of some of the world’s biggest names in newspaper and magazine publishing (New York Times, Washington Post) along with web browser developers such as Mozilla and Brave. Privacy organizations such as the EFF are also involved in the effort. The group hopes to win over both advertising industry players and legislators with a more narrow focus on preferences about collection and sale of personal data when visiting a site; tracking for the purposes of delivering targeted ads as users browse other sites does not look to be as substantially impacted by this plan.
The Global Privacy Control signal would be appended to HTTP headers as