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Do Not Track: don’t let sites track your actions

Posted In Technology Reviews, Products Review - By Techtiplib on Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 With No Comments »

Do Not Track (DNT) is a technology that allows users to agree or disagree with the fact that their actions may be tracked by the sites they do not visit. When you’re online advertisement networks and other third parties try to get as much information about you as possible – what you’re looking for, what sites you visit, which browser and platform you prefer, where you’re situated, etc. Thus, it turns out that your confidential information is in hands of online marketers. DNT allows you to control the ways getting and using of information online.

What is Do Not Track?

DNT is a HTTP heading that doesn’t allow a web app to track your online activity. Initially, DNT was built in the Internet Explorer only, but later on such browsers as Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Opera also followed the example. When activated, DNT sends DNT heading to Web Request. DNT heading has three meanings:

          • 1 (DNT: 1) – a user is against tracking;
          • 0 (DNT: 0) – a user agrees with tracking;
          • Null – a user hasn’t indicated the preferences.

While processing the heading, it becomes clear for web sites whether a user allows tracking or not.

Do you need Do Not Track?

Your online activity, including the information about clicks, search requests, the sites you’ve visited, location (by IP address), becomes known to third-party companies. Those who’re worried about the security of their online data either delete cookies or use their browsers in the incognito mode. Nevertheless, if you want to be sure these measures are not enough. Third parties (like advertising and marketing companies) can get access to your information even if you have deleted cookies or use LSO (also known as super-cookies).

What DNT does

DNT tells to third parties (not to the first parties, i.e. sites) that they can’t track your information. When you visit a web site different resources (like ad networks, analytical services) try to get information about your actions. By activating DNT in your browser you can tell them that you disagree with such tracking. If a third party supports DNT system, then it won’t track you and place their cookies in a browser in order to get information about you.

For example, if you visit Softpedia web site and see the ad by Google, then Softpedia is a first party and Google is a third party. If you have DNT enabled then your browser will ask Google Ad Network not to track your activity in the Internet. But it won’t take any actions regarding Softpedia.

What DNT doesn’t do

DNT doesn’t let you get rid of ad. After activating DNT you will still see ads, but they will be more general and less functional. First parties will know about your actions, for example, Google will know about your activity while visiting Gmail or Google Search. Social plugins for Twitter, Facebook, etc., will also track you. Apart from that, DNT doesn’t forbid the companies like Facebook to track users that use “Like” buttons.

DNT disadvantages

DNT is offered technology which is based on the system of trust and acceptance. If a third party company supports DNT then it won’t track a user who enabled this option. Otherwise you’ll be tracked. DNT is not supported by any legislation, it’s absolutely voluntary agreement among the parties. And if a company doesn’t support this agreement it will simply ignore it.

DNT activation

At the moment Do Not Track parameter is supported by Firefox, Safari and Opera. If you use Chrome you may install plugin Keep My Opts Out. Also don’t forget to clear cookies before activating the option, otherwise the activation will be useless.


In my opinion, DNT is a must for your online security, but the level of this security depends on the fact whether the companies accept this parameter. 

Author’s bio: Eugene Rudenko is a tech writer for IT company Intellectsoft (to visit company’s site click here. The company specializes in Android, iOS, Blackberry and WP development.

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