A consortium of Web companies, including Google, Apple, and Microsoft, has agreed to include “Do Not Track” buttons in Web browsers going forward.When a user clicks on this button, it will, according to the WSJ, prevent companies from “using the data about people’s Web browsing habits to customise ads, and have agreed not to use the data for employment, credit, health-care or insurance purposes.”
The announcement is part of a privacy push from President Obama and the FTC.
Privacy advocates are oh-so-excited about the news.
“It’s a good start,” Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Journal.
So are lots of normal people. The WSJ has a poll that shows 93.7% of respondents will use the new button.
There’s at least one reason why you shouldn’t join in on the hosannas.
Allowing people to block data-tracking – data-tracking that pales in comparison to what credit card companies know about you – makes it that much harder for ad-supported companies to sell ads. Selling ads is what makes a lot of content on the Internet free.
There is nothing sinister about third-party ad tracking cookies. They’ve been used since very early in the history of the web when General Motors, for example, insisted in serving its own ads on content sites so it could verify what was bought and optimise its targeting. Without that ability, many large advertisers will refuse to buy ads and the value of ad-supported media could plummet — just at a time when we are concerned about how we will support news media.
You read it here first: Because of this agreement, you are going to have to pay for more content than you would have otherwise.
The actual good news out of all this?
From an industry source: “This should defuse draconian measures that would undermine the functioning of the Internet as we know it.”