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What Are DNT (Do-Not-Track) Browser Requests?

We’ve all heard about how we can be tracked on the web, and how ads can be tailored to us based on our browsing habits. But what if we want to opt-out of this kind of tracking?  Is there anything we can do, short of disconnecting from the Internet for good?

Indeed, there is! In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was approached to create an Internet Do-Not-Track list, similar to the telephone Do-Not-Call list that already exists.  By 2011, most major web browsers supported the Do-Not-Track feature. So, what exactly is it?  From Wikipedia: “When a web browser requests content or sends data using HTTP, it can include extra information optionally in one or more items called “headers”. Do not track adds a header (DNT: 1), indicating that the user does not want to be tracked.

This sounds great in theory, assuming that the website you visit honors the request. It is up to each webmaster and advertising company to decide whether or not to allow a DNT request, and whether it will actually cease tracking for those who request to stay anonymous.

To check if your favorite browser supports the DNT header, view your browser’s privacy settings. In Safari, this is under Preferences -> Privacy.  In Firefox, you can also find DNT under Preferences -> Privacy.

The Internet is constantly changing, and staying safe online becomes  more challenging every day. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on how to keep your data private on the Internet!


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