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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Pros & Cons of the Do Not Track Feature

Chances are that, by now, you have heard of the Do Not Track feature. This feature allows Internet users to decide whether or not they want to be tracked by websites.

When an Internet user is tracked, websites collect data on the user based on their web searches and web history. This information is then sold to advertisers who create online ads specific to an individual user's web interests. These ads are then placed on the side of certain websites in hopes that the user will click on them (each click generates revenue for the advertising agency).

This collection of information occurred without the Internet user having a say, and some people have considered it an invasion of privacy, hence the creation of the Do Not Track feature. What the birth of this feature has done is allow Internet users to now decide for themselves if they want to be tracked. If they do, Internet users do not have to do anything. If they don't, a button will appear in their web browser, and all a user has to do is click it.

However, the Do Not Track feature does not guarantee an Internet user total privacy. Data can still be collected for market research.

Deciding whether or not the Do Not Track feature is an effective solution to the online privacy problem will require more time, but for now, we'll just measure the pros and cons.


1. Your information is safer

This is a very big pro. If you choose to click the Do Not Track feature, your Internet searching habits and the information you enter on websites will not be tracked. This allows you to keep your habits more private and allows your personal information to be safe.

2. It's a step in the right direction

The Do Not Track feature may still allow your information to be tracked for the use of market research, but it is at least a step in the direction of better protecting our privacy. As the first program of its nature, there are going to be bugs that need to be worked out, and eventually, it can result in a more thorough protection of our privacy.


1. No customized advertisements

If you don't pay any attention to them, this probably doesn't seem like that big of a con. But the problem lies in what will come. Websites will still need advertising revenue to make a profit, so they are still going to sell ad space. The problem is that instead of generating ads that are tailored to your habits and interests, you will receive random ads, and possibly even pop ups. These ads and pop ups will not consider who is actually sitting in front of the computer, and they can contain pornography. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it will be highly inappropriate for your child.

2. It may cost us money

The Do Not Track feature will be a free option on all web browsers. While this is free, other free luxuries we receive may disappear. Advertising agencies use the data that is collected from our Internet use to create ads that would pique our interest. When we click on these ads, advertisers make a profit. Creating these ads allows companies to reach a target audience without creating an in-depth and costly marketing strategy. When people stop being tracked, these companies have to create new ways to reach us, which is going to cost them more money. In order to make up the difference, the free services we are used to getting, such as Gmail or Yahoo search, may start charging fees.

Only time will tell if the Do Not Track feature was a good idea. While we do need a way to keep our information private on the Internet, we also need to consider if the risk is greater than the reward.

Charlie Adams is a tech guru who works as a consultant for telecommunications companies in the Las Vegas area. Charlie often encourages his associates to proof their works using Grammarly grammar checker in order to maintain a professional and functional line of communication. He also works on home improvement projects and loves to purchase Las Vegas granite.
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