Google's Chrome finally embraces Do Not Track, but with a warning

Google's Chrome finally embraces Do Not Track, but with a warning

Summary: DNT was already supported by browsers from Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple, and now it's a feature of Chrome as well. But people turning on the feature in Google's browser are warned that many websites will still collect their data to serve ads.

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Google has become the last major browser vendor to embrace the Do Not Track standard, with the release of Chrome 23 on Tuesday.

Do Not Track (DNT) is an option in browsers and other internet-connected systems that lets users tell websites they don't want to be tracked as they surf the web. It is already found in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and iOS 6, but Google — a company for whom web tracking is a core business — had until this week been the big holdout.

The new version of Chrome was revealed on Tuesday in a blog post from Google engineer Ami Fischman, who warned that, when it comes to DNT, results may vary.

"The effectiveness of such requests is dependent on how websites and services respond, so Google is working with others on a common way to respond to these requests in the future," she wrote.

Indeed, the meaning of DNT is the subject of intense debate across much of the tech industry. Although the type of tracking it is intended to block is generally the handiwork of marketing and advertising firms, those self-same companies have been trying to argue that DNT should ignore their tracking systems.

Last month, EU digital commissioner Neelie Kroes expressed frustration at what she called "the watering down of the standard". She said DNT had to "build on the principle of informed consent, giving people control over their information".

Chrome updates

As for Google, those enabling DNT in Chrome now will see a warning message that states: "Many websites will still collect and use your browsing data — for example to improve security, to provide content, services, ads and recommendations on their websites and to generate reporting statistics."

DNT was not the only new feature in Chrome 23, as the update also makes it far easier to view and control a specific website's permissions. Where users previously had to turn to settings pages if they wanted to know what a webpage was trying to do with geolocation, camera access and pop-ups, this information is now viewable simply by clicking on the page or lock icon next to the URL.

Fischman's blog post also praised Chrome's use of GPU acceleration for video. GPUs are less power-hungry than CPUs, and the engineer noted that laptop charges in Google's tests "lasted 25 percent longer when GPU-accelerated video decoding was enabled".

Topics: Browser, Google, Privacy, Security

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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26 comments
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  • Google is in no hurry to protect privacy

    It's disappointing that this Google was last to adopt DNT in its browser. This is clearly not the same corporation we all once knew and loved from those wondrous early days of the web.

    "Many websites will still collect and use your browsing data — for example to improve security, to provide content, services, ads and recommendations on their websites and to generate reporting statistics."

    This warning is Google trying to make you less worried about their own tracking seem more palatable by saying "hey we're not the only ones you know".
    Tim Acheson
    • I think

      ...that Google being the last on the train wasn't a bad thing.

      Google adSense and other ads are a huge source of revenue for them;
      if you were in their shoes and jumped in gung-ho, people would label you insane for that.

      nit-pick all you want,
      I'm just glad that they gave us the DNT option in chrome.
      NexusSloth
      • It's not really a DNT option.

        Since it still tracks you.

        Of COURSE Google is opposed to DNT, their entire business model depends on tracking your web browsing, your email content, your social media interactions, and your online purchases.
        matthew_maurice
        • Actually

          Actually google has ENFORCED DNT standard and pushed it forward.

          If you haven't known (clearly seems so), Google allows you to turn off its tracking where it can not anymore offer personalized advertisements but typical non-related ones.

          The real problem with DNT is its name. "Do Not Track" is not truth. As every advertiser tracks you even still then.
          It should be "Do Not Personalize" as it would be the truth. You are tracked, but advertising isn't personalized to your habits when browsing WWW.

          Many people forgets that there are other companies than Google what really tracks and logs all your internet usage (not just WWW history, and do not even care to mistake Internet and WWW to be same thing!).

          Between you and Google, there are Internet Service Provider (ISP) and all your connections goes trough that company. They need to follow laws, to log every email address, every email subject, every website address, every phone call and every text message number what you make and where you are when you make them. They even need to log every position where your mobile phone, tablet or any 2G/3G device moves or when you use your workstation at home. As far when you or your contact lives at USA or EU area. The time officially is from 6 months to 24, but it is unofficially known, they store it permanentally for decade or two (Government agencies do not need to delete anything, they just don't need to give it anymore anyone after that, but ISPs are not allowed to maintain those logs anymore after that).

          After ISP, your connection is accessed by multiple other proxies and other private corporation servers, before you even get to service what you are using. And any of those have all data accessible what isn't encrypted. Meaning that every text what you type to website or address bar is visible to those corporations and governments unless HTTP protocol is SSL encrypted (HTTPS on address bar).

          Every connection what isn't piped trough encrypted connection (VPN and SSH) is available and accessible to any of those (and even then, VPN and SSH keys needs to be checked using another contact manner, like making a phone call or physically delivering them).

          And if a WWW site wants to track you, they do not need to show ads or anything else, they can simply ask from you the information or even in worst case, just get you run some script.


          But most ones what criticize Google from tracking, does not understand that Google can not serve its services without personalization or access to your use history.

          Example Google Search. With history enabled, it can focus what type information you have searched in history and filter related information better way. Bad thing is, you don't get the "in other news" side of results because personalization. But that happens as well when you have common friends who have own opinions and wants to be with people who shares those opinions with you.

          A email service needs access to your contact book, so it can automatically fill address and suggest them by relating your email history with them.
          Computer filtering keywords from emails, they can give better targeted ads shown side of you (and who say something about Microsoft not doing it, they are lying. And Microsoft even serve ads in their official Windows 8 Modern Apps what people have paid).

          When you enter text to Google Chrome, that is delivered to Google as well so they can suggest similar sites or correct sites as it is same address bar and search bar.
          Microsoft does by default same thing with Internet Explorer, they just say it is security feature because they send every thing typed on address bar to their DNS service where they check is that site secure or not. How many disables that service who blame Google Chrome being insecure? Very few even knows it.

          More services you want, more you are tracked to deliver to you your wanted content. You can not get security by wanting services from third party, when everything is passed trough governments agencies in different countries, private corporations and at the end, ISP and targeted server.

          And those who come and say "I don't have anything to hide". I hope they will post their nude photos and their fantasies and taxes and all personal data to their answer and tells exactly what they do, when they have sex/masturbates, with who and what are their exact opinions.

          Quickly everyone does have something to hide and soon they should learn that even having a own persona life what others do not know, is good thing for everyone because personal life should be the security and privileged rights instead that you don't have anykind such because then you are not secure at all.
          Fri13
      • DNU

        I suppose part of the answer is DNU, Do Not Use Chrome.

        I've got pretty tired of Google, and indeed Apple. I've dropped all Google Adwords advertising for my little businesses, and am now building them organically.
        amclpreston
  • What a joke !

    Why is it everyone seems so keen on bashing Google for there policies. Many attack Google because they are "stealing" your private information. First of all, they aren't stealing anything. They are using information you willing provide them. And i'm not talking about credit card information or social security information. I'm talking about search results. You searched for a speaker system? Google is going t oadvertise you speaker stores... THAT's ABOUT IT!!!

    Ten of these "Google is selling your private information" articles come out a week and everyone gets all worked up in a frenzy thinking Google is selling their deep dark personal secrets because no one understands what "information" they are using. And the ignorant trolls that click on this bait every week just add gasoline to the fire.

    IF YOU DON'T LIKE GOOGLE...
    IF YOU DON'T TRUST GOOGLE...
    IF YOU WISH GOOGLE WOULD FAIL...

    It's real simple folks, just stop using Google. I on the other hand love Google. I think they are an excellent company that has done a lot of good for the environment and the world. I think their products are slamming and i think they follow very good business practices.
    ukjb
    • Actually, I think their business practices lead to greater polarization.

      and an overall loss of the "democratization" of the web. By tracking what you search for and keeping track of every click you make on the web, Google starts showing only information it thinks you might click on (yes very good business but bad for unbiased views). It starts leaving out the alternate views that many in the world share and creates an environment where it might make extreme views look centrist or normal. You soon only get the results that agree with your own view points. When you look for information (global warming for example) you will be presented with only those views that mirror your own. To be fair, Facebook, Bing Yahoo and many other search sites are equally guilty.

      Being "good for the world"? That is the last thing I would consider this boxing in of views.

      That said, their search tech is simply amazing and they have the deepest indexes of the web in existence.
      Bruizer
      • not really

        your example of global warming assumes google search fine tunes your researches THAT well. It does not, if you search for global warming, it brings issues concerning global warming, not your own views on global warming. It does not go that deep into detail for every individual. This is a radicalist point of view that many who are "afraid" of Google's power lead off with.

        And as far as "good for the world," i was referring to the good they do outside of the search business. Setting up information resources, charities and not-for-profit work, innovation, green initiatives, their involvement in communities like LGBT for example. Google is way more than just a search engine and smartphone OS maker.
        ukjb
        • Bzzzz... Wrong. Try again.

          You might do better next time.

          I picked "Global Warming" as a very specific example because Google really does track your surfing habits at that level of detail. Basically, Google knows if you get most of your news from MSNBC, Global Warming searches will be centered around its evil. If you get most of your news from Fox, it will be centered around denial. I have seen this demonstrated on this specific example. My far right conservative did not get a single hit on the dangers and issues around global warming for 4 pages in. My far left liberal friend did not get a single article about arguments for denial for 3 pages in.

          Google (and FB and Bing and Yahoo and...), in an effort to get more clicks, will actually tailor views it thinks you are much more likely to click on. As a result, when you search for charged topics on Google, it will present you pages that mirror with views you already have and weeds out opposing views knowing you are less likely to click on them. Note: I classify pushing results from page 1 to page 3 as "weeding out".

          If you are not afraid to learn more on this topic (something I find most Google fans like you are terrified of) search for gar Eli Pariser's TED talk on the subject.
          Bruizer
          • Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

            ...because you are probably already in the echo chamber...

            And folks wonder...ahhh never mind...
            MyopicOne
    • The Problem

      The problem with what you say is that you can not simply just not use Google. Google is the largest publisher of websites in the world so no matter what you do, Google will get your information. So you would have to not use the internet to make it so that Google can't track you.
      AccountKiller2345
  • Google analytics not following 'Do-Not-Track'

    As far as I can see Google analytics still places cookies on my PC even when Do-Not-Track is enabled.

    It is not enough that the browser can send the signal but Google services need to follow it as well.
    IE11
    • Wrong

      They add that cookie so when you browse to website what isn't Google service but shows ads from Google service, they can see it is a set by user that you do not wish ads to be personalized for you.
      Fri13
  • Tracking

    I look for a 60 amp GFI breaker for my workshed. I decided there is no way I can afford that.
    6 months later I'm still getting ads in my face about GFI breakers.
    Then I found out about some ad blocking extensions to chrome and firefox.
    It'sabsolutely insane out there.

    I'm at a joke website, and ther are 10 different apps tracking me --- for what? All I wanted was the joke of the day. I asked the site owner about the tracking and he made some rude comment about tin foil hats.

    I saw one commentator asking the question - if those 10 apps that were tracking you in your browser travels, were actually people standing outside your door, with notebooks & cameras - to record everything you did, everywhere you went, everything you looked at, how long would you tolerate that before going postal?

    And when it's your children being tracked - how long are you going to to tolerate someone tracking your children' activities?

    What's the difference between being stalked online and being stalked outside your home?
    inkwell
    • seriously ?

      When you drive down the highway, are you forced to read every single bill board? When you read a newspaper do you open every single ad? How about the penny savers that come in through usps? You read all of those?

      Then why do people think Google is violating them by showing you advertisements? IGNORE THEM. Or don't use Google.
      ukjb
  • This is stupid...

    This has nothing to do with who did what first, so stop b****ing like children.

    Let's get one thing out of the way, this s***, second-rate "watered-down" DNT is doing *nothing*. Nothing. At. All.
    The fact that Google introduced it last means nothing. The fact that Google actually has the balls to tell the truth of the matter says a little, but not much.

    The only thing that changes the situation is if somebody actually puts their foot down on this THEFT.
    Naryan
    • theft? really?

      what did they steal? your pride?
      You agreed to a privacy policy.
      don't like Google? don't use Google !
      Simple as that.
      ukjb
      • Wow you are

        quite the google fandroid, do you work for them? Just keep drinking the google kool aid.
        hoppmang
        • nope just keepin it real...

          ... in a world full of haters ;)
          ukjb
  • Oh Oh who let the dogs out ?

    Interesting how a simple post about Google's DNT can turn into a bar fight ;). Ok lets look back into the past for a sec and some may remember all the work we had to do ourselves, to rid our machines of spyware. We didn't even have the options to block Ads, or control who saw what. Remember Outlook Express and the lumpy IE ? Are we spoiled ? Ok today we have so many options that for the sake of reality either work or don't, so why can't Google own something that kinda works ? Regardless of the nature of the beast be it IE ,Google or Firefox we need to be a bit more humble here. Tech has come a long way in just my lifetime and I enjoy seeing changes in performance and visuals, don't you ? We will never be able to totally ban Ads because they are someone else's bread and butter. But we can keep our fingers off links. Most direct sites maintain a fairly good privacy policy, if they want to keep clients. But keep in mind the cookies used today are not the hot one's that caused real problems long ago. We the users will "Always" be tracked and punished with Viagra Ads and street cams, info is what info is to each individual.
    Chashew