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    Wall Street Journal: Firefox Makers Look at Hiding Online Footprints

    The Wall Street Journal reports on a revitalized effort on privacy from the people behind the Firefox Web browser:

    The makers of the popular Firefox Web browser are exploring ways to create a do-not-track mechanism that could offer Internet users a way to avoid being monitored online.

    The effort comes just months after Firefox’s creator, Mozilla Corp., killed a powerful new tool to limit tracking under pressure from an ad-industry executive, The Wall Street Journal has learned. Mozilla says it didn’t scrap the tool because of pressure, but rather out of concern it would force advertisers to use even sneakier techniques and could slow down the performance of some websites. […]

    The idea of a do-not-track mechanism that could be built into Web browsing software is gaining steam in Washington. This week, a House subcommittee on consumer protection is holding a hearing about do-not-track proposals and the Federal Trade Commission is expected to release an online privacy report that will promote a do-not-track mechanism. […]

    Currently, tracking companies aren’t required by law to offer people an option of not being tracked, though some voluntarily offer a so-called opt out. Last week, the online-advertising industry unveiled a website, www.aboutads.info, which allows people to opt out of 58 tracking companies, including Lotame, with a single click. […]

    However, those 58 companies are only a portion of the tracking industry. Earlier this year, the Journal found 131 companies that installed tracking tools on computers of visitors to the top 50 U.S. websites. Former ad executive Jim Brock has compiled a list of 274 companies on his website, PrivacyChoice.org, that use tracking technology.

    Of those companies, Mr. Brock has found 171 companies offer an opt-out option. To opt out, a consumer usually must install a file on her machine—called a cookie—that prevents data about the individual from being used for targeted advertising. Opting out doesn’t prevent the user’s information from being collected.

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