In one of the recent Firefox updates a Do Not Track setting was added to the options. The setting itself simply sends a flag in the HTTP headers to a website stating that they should either disable their tracking code or prevent tracking data being transmitted to a third party. The actual requirement isn’t particularly clear on this point, and it is entirely up to the site owner configure their server to honour the request.
Now I have no particular problem with a site recording a certain amount of data about my visit, but I don’t particularly want my browsing history or information about what services I am logged into being collected by companies to track my surfing history. So I thought that I would see whether Do Not Track is being honoured or ignored using Collusion, which is a browser plugin that a friend of mine showed me.
This is the graph of the sites (highlighted in blue) that I’ve visited and the links to third party sites that my visit information is being sent to, with the size indicating the number of incoming paths. The biggest blobs are google-analytics.com, scorecardresearch.com & doubleclick.net
I also run AdBlock Plus and ShareMeNot across all my computers, so I’m blocking quite a few extra links, but it seems clear that currently Do Not Track is being ignored by a large number of web servers. I would guess that a lot of it has to do with targeted advertising, but realistically all that an advertising company needs to successfully display a relevant ad is my geo-location and the context of the page the ad is loaded from.
Hopefully, as the hosting servers are updated more and more sites will respect the Do Not Track, until then I think I’ll find some more plugins to prevent my information being shared.