Mozilla has released a comprehensive guide to the use and implementation of the Do Not Track technology that’s included in its Firefox browser, in an effort to give developers and advertisers a better handle on how the technology works and how users are taking advantage of it.
The Do Not Track Field Guide is based on Mozilla’s observations about the adoption and implementation of DNT technology in browsers, as well as their interactions with developers and advertisers. Mozilla has had DNT implemented in Firefox since the release of Firefox 4 and Microsoft also implemented a DNT feature in Internet Explorer 9 earlier this year. Mozilla officials say that nearly five percent of Firefox users have turned on the Do Not Track feature in the browser at this point.
“Our Metrics team has been following adoption (in a privacy friendly way)
over the past few months and we’re seeing almost 5% of our user base
with DNT enabled (see today’s companion post from the Metrics team on the details). It’s been fascinating to watch the almost .01% increase each day. Another study
published a few weeks ago looked at 100 million Firefox users and
reported a slightly higher adoption rate of more than 6%. We’ve heard
from publishers that they are seeing 1-3% higher rates than ours,” Mozilla’s Alex Fowler wrote in a blog post.
Enabling Do Not Track in Firefox is a simple matter of checking the box in the Options menu under the Privacy tab that says, “Tell web sites I do not want to be tracked.” Once that’s checked, Firefox will send a signal in the HTTP header that it supplies to sites when users visit that tells the site that the user has the option enabled. What that means is different on each site, but in many cases it means that the site will not set a cookie, won’t collect user data at all or won’t collect data to send to third-party affiliates.
“Another key learning is that not all opt-outs are created equal. We
heard from developers who are excited to support the DNT header because
it may someday soon enable them to remove ineffective cookie-based
privacy opt-outs that did little to engender trust and sustain a user’s
choice across their many desktop and device browsers. Not only is
putting the control in the hands of the user better for the user, but
it’s also better for the sites and apps from a technical and compliance
perspective,” Fowler wrote.