Online users are looking forward to the Do Not Track policy that will allow them to opt out of online tracking. In fact, recent polls show that 90% of online users are in favor of the policy and as many as 80% of people would use the feature. The Do Not Track policy is fairly simple and is included in new browsers such as Google and Microsoft Explorer. All users have to do is click a simple box and their online use will not be tracked.
Surely, this sounds like a fair and simple solution, especially writing in the favor of an online user. While I don’t mind having my browsing history tracked, it can be quite unsettling to see just how much my computer knows about me, including who I most send emails to, who’s photos I’m wrangling through on Facebook, and what type of music gets me moving.
But if you’re not an online user and one of the big corps at Google, Facebook or Yahoo; these guys are fighting back, saying that the Do Not Track policy will bring about many negative changes. The arguments? Well, here are just a few:
- With users opting out of online tracking, they will be more at risk to security threats.
- Consumers will miss out of rich content that matches their particular needs and interests.
- Web content is free because of advertisements, and without online tracking info that is sold to these third parties, web content will no longer be free.
- The new bill will be costly and labor intensive to regulate and enforce.
- Some companies will adhere to the Do Not Track policy, while others won’t, causing some companies to take advantage.
At first glance, it may seem that Facebook and Google have some good arguments. Yet those in favor of the Do Not Track policy have even better arguments. Online privacy advocates are in support of using online advertisements, but without delving into the online histories of users.
For example, consider the TV industry that makes billions of dollars off commercial advertisements and is able to track popular TV shows without tracking individual viewers. With this approach in mind for online content, online advertisers would be able to bring in revenue and would have more versatility. Instead of just having ads relevant to your browsing history, all things would be advertised to you.
Online privacy will continue to be a controversial issue and only time will tell if the Do Not Track policy will be an effective means for protecting online usage.