Yahoo announces ‘do not track’ tool

March 29, 2012

Yahoo announced Thursday that it will implement a ‘do not track’ tool on its global network. The tool will include Yahoo’s site as well as its Right Media and Interclick properties.

“With this new feature, Yahoo! continues its leadership in privacy innovation while continuing to create the free online services consumers demand that are made possible through advertising,” Yahoo wrote in a release.

The release gave few details about the tool, saying that it will be accessible by the early summer, and that it will “provide a simple step for consumers to express their ad targeting preferences” to Yahoo.

The implementation of “do not track” has been a hot topic of discussion recently. Both the White House and the Federal Trade Commission say they want to work with the advertising industry to implement voluntary options for consumers to decide whether or not to participate in third-party data collection for advertising purposes.

Some lawmakers have proposed legislation that would mandate the addition of a “do not track” tool for online advertising, but critics have said that the government should be careful about requiring the tool when some companies are already taking steps voluntarily.

In February, when the White House released its report on privacy, Google confirmed that it will put a “do not track” button into its Chrome browser, which is currently the fastest-growing browser on the market.

Mozilla’s Firefox browser also offers a “do not track” option, as do Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari.

“Do not track” headers tell advertisers that have agreed to participate in the program that those Web surfers do not want to have third-party companies track their online activities. Not all advertisers have agreed to abide by those requests.

FTC chairman John Leibowitz said in testimony before the House commerce committee Thursday that consumers “should have” control over which cookies are put on computers, which, he noted, “are personal property.”

Related stories:

FTC urges transparency law for Internet data brokers

Voluntary guidelines for Web privacy backed by Obama administration

‘Do Not Track’ button — what it will and won’t do

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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