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01 April 2011, 12:45

Mozilla's "Do Not Track" header gaining support

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Mozilla Logo Mozilla, the non-profit organisation behind the Firefox web browser, has announced that it's proposed "Do Not Track" (DNT) header is gaining industry support. In a post on the Mozilla Blog, Alex Fowler, Technology and Privacy Officer for the Mozilla Foundation, says that "Two developments bring it closer to being respected by industry".

According to Fowler, the AP News Registry service, which is run by the Associated Press (AP), has implemented the header across more than 800 of its news sites that service over 174 million unique visitors every month. "The Associated Press (AP) is the first company to deploy DNT on a large scale, and it only took a few hours for one engineer to implement," added Fowler.

Furthermore, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) has said that it is looking into incorporating the DNT header into its Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA). The DAA includes five major media and advertising agencies, and represents "more than 5,000 leading media and technology companies that span the entire marketing-media ecosystem".

Online advertising networks use cookies to recognise internet users and serve them tailored advertising. First announced in January, the Do Not Track HTTP header is aimed at helping users defend against this practice by deleting cookies, not accepting cookies, or setting an opt-out cookie, which declares that they do not want their online activity to be tracked. However, the DNT header doesn't actively block content; it relies on the cooperation of the advertising industry.

Support for the DNT header is already included in the latest Firefox 4 release. Users can enable it via a check box under the "Advanced" tab in Firefox's Preferences. Once enabled, a header will signal websites which support DNT that the user wishes to opt-out of online behavioural tracking.

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