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DNT Stands for “DO NOT TRACK”


Do Not Track is a simple way for web users to express that they do not want to be tracked.  It is available in most modern browser.  It has been around for four years, and yet the majority of website publishers do not seem to honour it.  RequestPolicy and NoScript keep warning me about web pages that attempt to instruct my web browser to pull in third party content, often from notorious data miners whose sole purpose is to track users.  Few website publisher are mindful of the explicit user request.  One such example is the FreeBSD website: if the Do Not Track preference is set in the browser, it does not send instructions to include Google Analytics.  How difficult is it for other websites to honour the user’s request?  Very easy, as it turns out.  For example, using standard Apache Server Side Includes:

<!--#if expr='!${HTTP_DNT}' -->
 [PUT THE THIRD PARTY REQUESTED ELEMENTS HERE]
<!--#endif -->

The above code will show the third party requested elements only if the user consent to it.  Ignore the user’s express wish not to be tracked and you may be exposing yourself to legal liability.  Web publishers have been warned.

2 Responses

  1. Well… Yes and No :-)
    DNT does not mean you have to disable social plugins, advertising networks and the like. It is an indication for those services that you do not want to be “tracked” accros domains.
    Lets take Google Analytics example. It means it can do its jobs for your website but when you visit another GA enabled website you should be considered as someone else. I do not know if GA is do-not-track friendly but twitter for instance is (see https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169453).
    As a web developper this is my job to implement DNT for the services I propose on my website, not for services I might use on my site.

  2. @Guillaume: What is the difference between services you propose on your website and services you use on your website? A car manufacturer is responsible to the end-user for the tires that came with the car, even if he did not make them.

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