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Google to up privacy, offer 'Do Not Track'

2/27/2012

Google announced it will implement a "Do Not Track" feature on its Chrome web browser, following the recent announcement of a "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" drafted by the White House, Federal Trade Commission and the Digital Advertising Alliance.

In keeping with principles outlined in the bill of rights, users will be able to limit how websites track their internet browsing by activating the Do Not Track feature that will be built into the Chrome header by the end of 2012. Other popular browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer, have already adopted Do Not Track technology.

Google may have been a holdout on Do Not Track because the company earns significant revenue from targeted online advertisements, which are displayed to users selectively, based on their web activity.

In a blog post, Google stressed it still believes in providing a personalized web experience, and stated that certain tracking mechanisms will still be in place. For example, first-party cookies for personalization of certain websites - such as news sites that recommend articles based on past articles accessed - will still be active.

"We believe that tailoring your web experience - for example by showing you more relevant, interest-based ads, or making it easy to recommend stuff you like to friends - is a good thing," wrote Susan Wojcicki, a senior advertising executive at Google.

Despite this belief, Google said it is adopting Do Not Track in the interest of standardizing web browsing privacy practices industry-wide, which it said is preferable to having each browser set its own privacy policy and terms of use, which could lead to consumer confusion.