Do Not Track (DNT) allows an Internet user to opt out of web tracking technologies through their browser. A DNT-enabled browser adds a header to messages sent to web servers that request that the server not track the user’s behavior. DNT is currently a voluntary system (like robot.txt) and has not been implemented in all browsers or universally adopted. Blocking certain tracking methods will also block some behaviorally-based advertisements for users that choose to opt-out.
The Federal Trade Commission has encouraged multi-stakeholder efforts to develop a "Do Not Track" mechanism, which would afford greater consumer control over personal data in the context of online behavioral advertising. The meaning of "Do Not Track" and the best mechanism(s) for implementing it are still under discussion.
A central issue surrounding "Do Not Track" is whether it should encompass personal data collection, or whether it should only apply to personal data use. Some hold the view that a "Do Not Track" mechanism should merely allow consumers to opt out of being shown behaviorally targeted ads, while others assert that a "Do Not Track" mechanism should allow consumers to opt out of personal data collection, irrespective of its ultimate uses. Still others support a mechanism that allows consumers to opt out of uses other than those related to certain everyday business uses.
"Proposals in Congress and elsewhere would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to promulgate regulations for a do-not-track mechanism. Proponents of such proposals noted that the use of third-party cookies greatly increased in recent years — for example, the Wall Street Journal identified more than 3,000 tracking files the top 50 websites placed on a test computer. Advocacy organizations argued that Internet users may not be fully aware of the extent of third-party tracking and that users should affirmatively consent to tracking. Some members of Congress raised concerns about flash cookies and whether the FTC Act's prohibition of unfair or deceptive acts or practices would cover them. Representatives of the advertising and other industries have cautioned against many of the proposals."
- ↑ See Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: Recommendations for Business and Policy Makers; Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.
- ↑ See, e.g., FTC Testimony, The State of Online Privacy, Before the Senate Comm. on Commerce, Science and Transportation, at 12-17 (Mar. 16, 2011) (discussing "Do Not Track") (full-text).
- ↑ See, e.g., Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2013, S. 418, 113th Cong.
- ↑ Information Resellers: Consumer Privacy Framework Needs to Reflect Changes in Technology and the Marketplace, at 15-16.
- "Overview" section: Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy, at 25 & n.28.