"Do Not Track." Most internet browsers have a button hidden deep in their settings that says "Do Not Track," and when you click it, you would expect that you regain some control over your internet privacy, as advertisers must adhere to the "Do Not Track" request. But does it actually work?
Nine months ago, the Obama administration agreed to create a "Do Not Track" mechanism in browsers, and while many already have a "Do Not Track" button in place, until the government and advertisers come to agreement, the "Do Not Track" button will have no effect.
The parties have been meeting regularly to try to agree how the "Do Not Track" button should work, but according to CNN, they can't even agree what the "track" in "Do Not Track" means. While some want the "Do Not Track" button to make targeted ads would be a thing of the past, advertisers won't budge on that.
"The advertisers have been extraordinarily obstructionist, raising the same issues over and over again, forcing new issues that were not on the agenda, adding new issues that have been closed, and launching personal attacks," Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford privacy researcher and Do Not Track technology developer, said, according to CNN. We have made, maybe, inches of progress. This continues to be a stalemate."
However, people in the advertising industry say the "Do Not Track" button is too broad, and could kill their business model.
"We have a real concern about using a sledgehammer for a flyswatter problem," Marc Groman, executive director of the National Advertising Initiative, told CNN. "Do Not Track will have a disproportionate effect on our stakeholders."
But while many people want the "Do Not Track" button to work, Spyro Korsanos, CEO of the advertising agency Mediasyndicator, told TechWorld that those views are misguided.
"Our results show that these are actions borne more out of lack of knowledge and confusion about the purpose of tracking technology, which has actually been designed to improve and personalise the services offered to them on the web," he said. The backlash against tracking technology is also partly due to irritation amongst users being overly re-targeted with people having ads following them around on the web - something attributable to less human judgment in chain of automated ad technology and placements."
Regardless of whether people understand what is actually being tracked, the fact remains that many people, including the those in the government, still want the "Do Not Track" button to work. But until the two sides come to agreement, clicking the "Do Not Track" button will have no effect.