Web Tracking and Do Not Track

By on 03/18/2011

Tracking users and movement across our websites has always been a golden ticket into the minds of our users.  We A/B test, we change the layout, change the design and position things all based on analytics.  Now with congressional interest in the ‘Do Not Track’ movement, the web development community is in a bit of a pickle.

As we poke around the web, sites leave cookies on our computer to save preferences and things such as that.  The Do Not track movement is going to tell websites that you are not supposed to track the user.  Here is an explaination of the technical piece of things from the Do Not track website:

Whenever a web browser requests content or sends data using HTTP, the protocol that underlies the web, it can optionally include extra information, called a “header.” Do Not Track simply adds a header indicating the user wishes to not be tracked. Unlike Do Not Call, Do Not Track is not a list; rather, it employs a decentralized design, avoiding the substantial technical and privacy challenges inherent to compiling, updating, and sharing a comprehensive registry of tracking services or web users.

Web browsers are actually taking it upon themselves now to build in Do Not Track technology.  Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which is usually years behind (yes, that was a crack on IE), has announced they will be releasing IE 9 with do not track technology

In an unexpected shift, Microsoft has said that Internet Explorer 9 will support Do Not Track. The consumer privacy feature, developed by Mozilla, transmits a header to any Web site that a user visits, indicating whether the user agrees to have their movements tracked online.

So what does all of this mean?  As a consumer, we might be safer on the web, but we might have to sacrifice some of the personalized features we enjoy when we visit a website.  As a business owner trying to compete against the thousands of competitors online, we might have to come up with some creative strategies to compensate for the loss in analytics and personalization.

Leave a message and let us know your thoughts.  Are you pro-DNT, anti-DNT?  Are you a user or business owner?

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