back to article Early! Do! Not! Track! Adopter! Yahoo! Says! It's! Rubbish, Bins! It!

Yahoo! has done an about-face on its stance toward the controversial Do Not Track browser privacy standard, announcing that it will no longer recognize users' DNT settings across any of its online properties. "As the first major tech company to implement Do Not Track, we’ve been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to …

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re: "Right now, when a consumer puts Do Not Track in the header, we don't know what they mean"

What we mean is : DO NOT TRACK.

Look it up in a dictionary sometime. If it can be described as tracking we don't want it when this feature is on.

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Flame

Re: re: "Right now, when a consumer puts Do Not Track in the header, we don't know what they mean"

Exactly.

The clue's in the name, folks.

The advertising industry really have shot themselves in the foot, over the last few years. They have become more and more obtrusive and intrusive, to the extent where much of TV and Radio and almost all of the Web is unusable without taking precautions to avoid having adverts forced down your throat.

The argument of 'targeted adverts' is I suspect rather specious: my feeling (though I don't have an MBA so I can't prove this) is that the vast majority of people spend most of their time buying the things they've always bought: if they bought cornflakes last week they're unlikely to change brand unless they seem another flavour on the shelf at tuppence cheaper. The six page spread in the local freebie newspaper is unlikely to change their mind, I feel, and nor is targeted advertising - because who searches for or gossips in their email about their brand of cornflakes, or washing powder, or potato, or all the other things we all buy all the time?

As for big ticket items - don't most people up and think "I'd like a new car/computer/fondleslab/antique guitar/house" and then start looking around for it, actively seeking comparisons and reviews? How many times have you seen an advert for a house and thought, hmm, must go out and buy one? And how often having bought such an item are you bombarded with adverts to buy another? Somewhat too late, one might think...

So, it's straight forward. If it says Do Not Track it's because we do not want to be tracked; we don't want 'targeted' adverts and ideally we don't want adverts at all. We all pay our ISPs for our carrier service, and I see no reason why we should pay to carry your mindworms.

/rant

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Re: re: "Right now, when a consumer puts Do Not Track in the header, we don't know what they mean"

I think it means they no longer remember what a customer is. Haven't had one in ages.

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Re: re: "Right now, when a consumer puts Do Not Track in the header, we don't know what they mean"

Be that as it may, you still have to trust the site to not track you. That's the flaw with DNT, it doesn't actually do anything.

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They're mincing words and dancing about with buzzwords.

If I read that right, as long as the DNT setting wasn't a default, they had no trouble with it. As soon as IE made it the default, they had issues. Sounds like they know that most people won't set DNT to "enable". By setting it as default means they lose advertising money for targeted ads.

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Call me cynical...

...but I suspect that DNT is too successful, with more people opting in than expected, and, with Yahoo! not being what it once was, its buggering up their ability to maximise advertising revenue exactly when they need it. I'm guessing - not being in the advertising industry - that advertisers, in these cost concious times, want to know exactly where their money is going and its being spent hitting the correct eyeballs rather than just being splurted out willy-nilly. By choosing to obey a users wish to not be tracked Yahoo! are probably losing out compared to those services that couldn't care less about DNT and can offer more attractive and effective targetted advertising packages than the Purple Palace can. Its not like Yahoo! can afford let this happen, hence DNT - surprise, surprise - "does not work".

Of course, this is all conjecture and I may be way off base, but I can't see any other reason for Yahoo! to ditch DNT and resume following people around the interwebs in a dirty brown mac, notepad in hand, jotting down everywhere you go and everything you look at.

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Re: Call me cynical...

It's pretty easy to read log files to see whether DNT has been set or not. As with most browser settings it requires a lot of energy to find, understand and set. And, it only sets a header. It doesn't get the browser to enforce any kind of white or blacklist so isn't much use anyway. So, I suspect that most people don't set it.

Much better to use something like Ghostery that does as much as possible to enforce my preference not too be tracked across the interwebs.

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Re: Call me cynical...

Except in IE10 (and possibly IE11) where it was ON by default, which sort of mucks up whether the user *intended* to turn it on or not.

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Re: Call me cynical...

I've done a fair number of clean Windows installations over the years and whenever that's included IE10 (or 11) I've been *asked* whether I want to change that default. I imagine the OOBE for consumers buying a new PC with Windows pre-installed is pretty similar. So those who speak of a "default" are really saying most end-users are too effing thick to read what's on the screen during setup.

Of course, maybe that's precisely the target market for your average advertiser. Maybe that's why they are so cross. Diddums.

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'does not work' means: 'you can't make no money from it'.

It's useful to contrast Yahoo's current position with the next-nearest one that they didn't take: had they said they'd only respect a single 'standard' (i.e. any specific one) of DNT, they'd have been in a position to say, honestly, that their heart was still in it, but that there's a looming problem in metastasizing 'standards'. IOW, DNT is not the issue; 'standards' is.

ObXKCD: I'm aware of that strip about standards.

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Facepalm

Hmm...

I appreciate that advertising and marketing is a specialist profession*, but could I suggest some sort of implementation like this:

IF DNT==1

Display random advert

ELSE

Do all that stuff that makes you think that becaue I once upgraded the RAM in my laptop I will continue to buy RAM for random machines - or long-term car parking in downtown LA.

ENDIF

The invoice for my consultancy fee will be in the post.

* One or more parallel universes may be required.

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Re: Hmm...

Alternatively, having bought the laptop RAM, you might want to buy a laptop to put it in. At least that's how Amazon seem to work with printer cartridges.

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So one browser maker does what is probably in the best interests of the consumer, and everyone who stands to make a loss from that runs in the opposite direction.

The elephant in the room is, of course, that as long as DNT is off by default, it's unlikely to cause any major harm. As soon as it's on by default, revenue goes down so it is no longer a usable standard from their perspective.

When a service is free, you're the product.

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Facepalm

"However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge"

The single standard we're aiming for would be the server respecting the user's DNT setting. Yahoo have just broken it.

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Don't look at me. I'm shy!

The EU should mandate that sites honour browsers' DNT settings. They interfered with cookies; they could throw some weight around here as well.

A default value of DNT=1 on a fresh browser install is a correct default, because users have a reasonable expectation of privacy by default.

Unless said user is mad.

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Re: Don't look at me. I'm shy!

This EU law is about tracking in general, not specifically about cookies. It says that should should not track people unless they specifically opt-in.

Having a do-not-track option that is enabled be default, and requiring people to specifically disable it is exactly what EU law requires, so if the website visitor has not disabled it, then you must not track. EU law already covers this.

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Re: Don't look at me. I'm shy!

'EU law already covers this'

That's nice to know. So are we going to see Yahoo! Getting! Prosecuted! anytime soon?

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Anonymous Coward

Better alternative

Need a browser add on that pretends to click on all advertisements (click, then drop the transaction to save on data...), enables all tracking, etc. Need to pollute the data set that the targeted advertisers use if we want to destroy them...

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Re: Better alternative

I'm sure the dataset is already polluted beyond redemption (*), so I'm amazed that anyone spends advertising money on web sites, but as long as they do then I don't see why El Reg shouldn't profit from their stupidity. (* I think I saw an ad on El Reg the other week that actually looked interesting and I was surprised because I couldn't remember that *ever* happening before.)

A simpler response is to block third-party cookies. (That presumably blocks all Yahoo! cookies because who the hell actually goes to the site anymore? Every time they get mentioned in a story I think "Are they still going?".) This is an option that has been available in most (if not all) browsers for ages. It is under the end-user's control and there's little the anti-DNT crowd can do about it.

The one thing left to track is your IP address, but everyone is in denial about IPv6 and so most consumers will be behind CGN in a year or two.

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Well, the EFF released a new Firefox/Chrome privacy addon called Privacy Badger and it is hillarious how many things from ElReg gets blocked:

https://www.eff.org/privacybadger

So, you Register Creepy Perverts are the last people who should poke fun at Yahoo!

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