May 3, 2014
Yahoo Pulls Support From Do Not Track Feature
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Nearly two years after becoming the first major tech company to implement Do Not Track (DNT), Yahoo announced this week that it was dropping support for the privacy setting, citing the absence of a single industry-wide standard and a lack of popularity for the feature.
In a blog post, the Sunnyvale, California Internet portal’s privacy team explained that they “fundamentally believe the best web is a personalized one” and that “the privacy of our users is and will continue to be a top priority for us.”
“We’ve been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry,” they continued, emphasizing that users “can still manage their privacy on Yahoo while benefiting from… the variety of privacy tools we offer within our own platform, accessible via our Yahoo Privacy Center.”
According to Jane McCallion of PC Pro, DNT is an HTTP privacy setting which instructs advertisers if Internet surfers want them to monitor their activity across websites. The feature is switched off by default in most browsers, forcing Web surfers to opt-in before they receive any protection from the privacy setting – and even then, advertisers are not required to respect those wishes.
“Websites like Yahoo have the ability to offer more relevant ads based on your Web activity. If, for example, you search for a lot of recipes, ads for cooking classes may appear more often than ads for men's clothing,” explained PC Mag’s Stephanie Mlot. “Some lawmakers and privacy advocates, however, are concerned about how much data Internet companies collect.”
“In turn, ‘do not track’ options offer Web users the ability to opt out of having their activity tracked,” she added. “In a March 2012 privacy report, the Federal Trade Commission recommended that companies integrate simpler and more transparent privacy options like ‘do not track.’ The issue has largely been focused on browsers.”
When Microsoft announced Internet Explorer 10 in 2012, they said that the DNT feature would be “on” under the default setting, meaning that advertisers would be notified that users did not wish to have their activity tracked. The announcement upset many key players in the online advertising industry, including Google, since the new browser was predicted to be responsible for one-fourth of all Internet traffic.
At the time Yahoo initially announced plans to offer the DNT feature on all of their websites in March 2010, the company said that it would “provide a simple step for consumers to express their ad-targeting preferences” to the Web portal. At that time, only 13 had agreed to respect the Do Not Track mechanisms in browsing software.