do-not-track

Safer, More Private Browsing

The Internet has made the world a man’s oyster thanks to its ability to bridge gaps and distances like no other technology can. While this is a wonder that has brought us a lot of good, getting online has also caused our private lives to become anything but private.

While we surf the net the websites that we visit generally collect data on us. Some of them later use this data to serve us with ads in conformance with our interests and also for checking the common interests of a particular demography. This intrusion into our private lives is something that we live with as an essential evil of the internet era.

However, things have changed now. Chrome has come up with a ‘Do Not Track’ feature that allows some measure of privacy to internet browsers. Similarly, Firefox Tracking protection also provides its users the much-needed security while browsing.

Why Do Companies Track Our Data?

While invading somebody’s privacy seems like a nefarious pursuit, websites generally do it with the best of intentions. The banking sites often track the people logging into them to prevent frauds. If there is ever a login from a new device the bank immediately sends a warning to the account holder informing them of this new login. This has reduced the number of potential frauds enormously.

Certain ad networks are paid as per the number of clicks they receive. Some amount of tracking is imperative for them to weed out any fake clicks coming to them through computer bots.

Ad companies which study our interests and send customized ads to us in order to increase their conversion ratios make the biggest use of online tracking. They can also study the effectiveness of their existing ads by the number of people visiting them and actually taking the calls to action. Websites also understand their ease of navigation and demographic clientele thanks to data tracking.

These are some pretty impressive reasons to track our internet usage; however there are quite a few of us who would rather not have our every passage on the web come under a scanner.

What is “Do Not Track” on Chrome?

Do not track is an advanced settings feature in Chrome browsers that sends a ‘Do not track’ request to the website with the normal browsing traffic being transported. It is important to note that this is a request not a command.

The web-browser might comply with our wishes or fail to do so basis the essential integrity of the site we are visiting. ‘Do not track’ is a method available to Chrome users to let the web know that they would like to guard their privacy.

The websites generally respond to this request by either completely stopping the data collection that is otherwise the norm or ignoring the request completely and going ahead with their data collection and targeted ads. There is a middle ground here as well wherein the websites limit the information gathering process and refrains from sending personalized ads to you.

Turn on Do Not Track on Chrome

do-not-track

While this feature is by no means a foolproof way of guarding our privacy, it is definitely a start. In order to turn it on your mobile here is what you need to do.

  • Open Chrome on your device.
  • Click on the Chrome menu option that is present at the top right corner of the window. This is generally denoted by three vertical dots.
  • Scroll down the options available till you see Settings and then select it.
  • Right at the bottom of the page you would see an option ‘Show Advanced Settings’. Go ahead and select that to reach your privacy settings controls.
  • Select ‘Privacy’ from the various options on offer.
  • Finally under the Privacy advanced settings select ‘Send a Do Not Track request with your browsing traffic’.

This is all it takes to let the world know that they should leave you alone. What the internet giants do with this information is up to them but you have at least let them know that you prefer that they do not track you.

What Lies Ahead for DNT?

Currently Do Not Track or DNT as we call it is very much at the infantile stage. There is a lot that needs to be done in order to make this feature consistent and effective. A lot of effort is being put in order to come up with a consensual list that would determine and define the way websites treat the Do not Track request. A number of technical experts, policy advocates and firms are working together in order to come up with such consensus – Check their progress here.

Websites tracking our surfing history is a big chunk of the privacy invasion in play today. However, it is by no means the only invader. Thanks to the new technologies airports, stores and hotels are now able to track devices that are close to them.

A do not track request would help them honor our privacy as well. There are a number of companies that have already set a precedent with their avowal to honor a ‘Do Not Track’ requests completely. Their honorable conduct might just persuade the other to follow suit.

Final Thoughts

Surfing on a mobile phone can be made a lot more secure thanks to the do not track feature from Chrome.

Google has always tried to come up with ways to address the pain areas of its customers and this new feature definitely looks like something that we have a great need for. Other browsers like Firefox have also added similar privacy settings to allow their users greater freedom.

It takes very little time to switch this feature on but it can go a long way in ensuring that we surf the net with greater impunity and that a continuous stream of ads do not follow us through our voyage into the internet world.