Mozilla Firefox has made a respectable stride in dealing with the issue of behavioral targeting with their new “do not track” setting. The practice of behavioral targeting entails tracking the activity of internet users, and then tailoring advertisements to their browser based off of their activity. This practice has angered many legal experts, who assert that such conduct is an invasion of one’s privacy. For those who many not know, “invasion of privacy” is a legal cause of action from which one may claim damages.
In response to such an accusation, many sites claimed that there was an “opt-out” option where users could avoid having their online activities tracked. The problem with this was that this “opt-out” option was never heavily promoted. If people do not know about an option, they are not likely to use it. Therefore, the activity of most online users was tracked, despite this apparent “opt-out” option.
What Mozilla has added with their Mozilla Firefox 4 is a “do not track” (DNT) feature in the browser’s heading. This way, it is visible feature for all to use. When a user enables the DNT feature, the option is exercised via the HTTP address, which in turn informs servers that a user does not want to be tracked. Earlier, “do not track” options were dependant on cookies. By going through the HTTP address, Mozilla has provided a more convenient and effective way for its users to not be tracked.
Not only has Mozilla provided a more convenient solution for its users to avoid being targeted, but it has also made a respectable effort to appease the fears of legal experts. When the upheaval regarding behavioral targeting first arose within the legal community, the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) formed. The DAA was created to devise a self-regulatory program so that people’s online privacy would not be invaded. Mozilla has now proposed to the DAA to include their new feature as a part of their self-regulatory program. This is a great proposition. With the introduction of such a feature, less people will be tracked, which will lead to less lawsuits stemming from the invasion of privacy cause of action. All in all, it is a win-win situation.Tweet