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    First Person Cookie: More Choice and Control Over Online Tracking from Mozilla Firefox

    First Person Cookie, the personal blog of Alex Fowler — the privacy chief of Mozilla (maker of the Firefox Internet browser) — announces a new “Do Not Track” feature for Firefox.

    In particular, we’re seeking ways to provide Firefox users a deeper understanding of and control over the flow of personal information online. […]

    As the first of many steps, we are proposing a feature that allows users to set a browser preference that will broadcast their desire to opt-out of third party, advertising-based tracking by transmitting a Do Not Track HTTP header with every click or page view in Firefox. When the feature is enabled and users turn it on, web sites will be told by Firefox that a user would like to opt-out of OBA. 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 Do Not Track header builds on the work the advertising networks have done to date without the cookie-based systems they make available to people online. The advantages to the header technique are that it is less complex and simple to locate and use, it is more persistent than cookie-based solutions, and it doesn’t rely on user’s finding and loading lists of ad networks and advertisers to work. […]

    The challenge with adding this to the header is that it requires both browsers and sites to implement it to be fully effective. 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.

    Here’s more info from Fowler’s colleagues: “The technical proposal (available here and here) was posted by my colleague, Sid Stamm. He’s also blogged about the technical specs here. Another Mozilla colleague, Mike Hanson, has posted a technical analysis of Do Not Track problems and solutions.”

    Here are a few news stories on the change:
    CNET: Mozilla outlines Firefox ‘do-not-track’ tool
    PC World: Mozilla Do-Not-Track Feature Has a Fatal Flaw
    Computerworld: Mozilla to offer new feature for improved online privacy


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