Today's announcement by the Digital Advertising Alliance that its member advertisers will support the Do Not Track privacy protections now being built into Web browsing is a welcome, if long overdue, move in favor of greater consumer privacy. (Consumer Reports first brought the problem of browser tracking by advertisers to national attention back in 1997.)
But there are still ways companies can track your Web-surfing behavior that Do Not Track doesn't address. Here are two:
- If you use Google's search engine while you're signed into your Gmail account, the search giant can track which sites you search for and visit—even if you set your browser to Do Not Track. That's because Google doesn't need to rely on the browser to know who you are; you're signed into your account.
- If you have a Facebook account and you enable the Facebook feature that connects many sites (such as, say, Huffington Post) to your account, every time you visit one of those sites and "share" or "like" something on it, Facebook knows not only which site you visited but also what interested you on that site.
You can prevent these forms of tracking by not signing into your Google account whenever you use Google's search engine and by not enabling connections between your Facebook account and external Web sites.
I will have more on the latest developments in online privacy from the white House later today.
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