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    MediaPost: Consumers Define Do-Not-Track More Broadly Than Web Companies, Study Says

    There’s been much discussion about Do Not Track proposals lately — these would allow consumers to restrict the data gathered by Web sites and marketers on the consumers’ online browsing or purchases. MediaPost has an article about research by privacy expert Aleecia McDonald concerning consumer ideas about what Do Not Track means.

    Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple have heeded the Federal Trade Commission’s call for an easy-to-use do-not-track mechanism and promised to offer browser-based headers. The headers, when activated by users, communicate to Web sites that users don’t want to be tracked.

    What that term actually means, however, is open to debate. For now, some Web companies say do-not-track means only that a consumer doesn’t want to be subject to the kind of tracking done to facilitate online behavioral advertising. […]

    Consumers, however, appear to be taking a far broader view of do-not-track, according to research by privacy expert Aleecia McDonald presented last week at a workshop of the World Wide Web Consortium. McDonald reported that many people think do-not-track will eliminate a vast array of data collection.

    Before the conference, McDonald conducted a preliminary study, still incomplete, of around 200 Web users. She asked them what type of information they thought would be collected if they clicked on a do-not-track button. Almost 40% responded that activating do-not-track meant that nothing at all about their Web use would be collected.

    When asked how they would react if nothing changed after they clicked a do-not-track button, 51% said they wouldn’t be surprised. Almost as many, 45%, said they would blame the browser company.


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