“do track or do not track?” — that is the question

Sid Stamm

5

For a while now, we’ve been talking about how the Do Not Track feature really has three states: “user says nothing”, “user says track”, and “user says don’t track”. In Firefox 4, we introduced two of these states with a checkbox (“user says nothing” and “user says don’t track”), and many people are voicing their desire to opt-out.

three-state DNT UI

Of course, it’s reasonable to expect some people want the tracking to improve the quality of ads they see; after all, the goal of this feature is to help each individual say what they want, whether it’s pro-tracking or not.

I just finished updating the Firefox tracking preference interface to give people the ability to say, “this tracking thing is fine, bring on the custom content!” This change is still experimental, but within a day or so it will be available in our Nightly builds for testing. Take a look, let us know what you think.

5 responses

  1. Jeroen wrote on ::

    Great, that should be helpful for the European Union where the law prescribes that “user says nothing” equals “user says don’t track”.

  2. Gareth Heyes wrote on ::

    Since a small percentage of privacy aware users are actually going to dig into the preferences and find this setting why not ask a simple question when you install/upgrade firefox? “Do you wish websites to track you?” Yes or no.

  3. Gareth Heyes wrote on ::

    Also when the “Do not track” setting is on Firefox should block all 3rd party cookies across domains and sub-domains. Why trust that websites will obey the setting when the browser can prevent it? That way you could also track attempted violations of “Do not track” and log the results for legal purposes.

  4. Steve wrote on :

    (Caveat that I am an upstanding member of the advertising industry interested in protecting user privacy)

    You’ve definitely created a simplified interface and I will be glad to see the new values start to flow live to understand what percentage of users opt out and/or make changes to the settings. You didn’t mention what the initial default value will be… In either case its an upgrade from the current settings.

    I’m keen to see what the “learn more” page will contain. I read through much of the discussion, especially the back and forth around the need for a detailed explanation of the options and a clean user experience at the same time.

    As others before me have stated, I’m concerned with the word “track”. It carries with it a connotation that these sites know exactly who you are and possess other bits of PII. That level of knowledge is usally avoided at all costs by the vast majority of third party sites and advertising companies (except when the user provides it a la Facebook, Google, Amazon etc as part of a broader service offering).

    1. Sid Stamm wrote on :

      Our default hasn’t changed: it will be the option that says “do not tell sites anything about my tracking preferences”. As we have been arguing for a long time, the point of the feature is to reflect the individual’s preference, so the user must make a choice before we send any stance on tracking.

      The link opens a tab with our DNT FAQ: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/dnt/