Do Not Track is a technology and policy proposal that enables users to opt out of tracking by websites they do not visit, including analytics services, advertising networks, and social platforms. At present few of these third parties offer a reliable tracking opt out, and tools for blocking them are neither user-friendly nor comprehensive. Much like the popular Do Not Call registry, Do Not Track provides users with a single, simple, persistent choice to opt out of third-party web tracking.
Do Not Track signals a user’s opt-out preference with an HTTP header, a simple technology that is completely compatible with the existing web. While some third parties have committed to honor Do Not Track
, many more have not. In February 2012, the major online advertising trade groups pledged
at the White House to support Do Not Track by year-end; that promise remains unfulfilled. Efforts to standardize Do Not Track in the World Wide Web Consortium have resulted in deadlock, despite frequent urging by American
We believe that Do Not Track could be a success, but at this stage, must be implemented through either a legal or technical requirement. In the interim, novel technical countermeasures—like the Cookie Clearinghouse
—hold promise for providing simple and effective user choice over web tracking.