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Web ‘Do Not Track’ Privacy Protection is Meaningless, Experts Say

(credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

(credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Web browsers like Internet Explorer and Chrome promise to protect your privacy with a “Do Not Track” button that’s supposed to keep advertisers at bay. But so far, they’re empty promises.

Microsoft and Google are offering “do not track” in upcoming versions of their browsers. Firefox has the option now.

“Normal people think that means OK, great — then my privacy is protected,” says Politico senior tech reporter Steve Friess. “It’s not true.”

Friess says the browsers are simply telling the web you don’t want to be followed.

“And the world has no obligation to follow suit,” he cautions.

And, he says, it’s not like the companies can’t just do what Apple does with Safari: it blocks cookies from the start. Though there is an argument for this kind of surfing surveillance.

“The ad industry will tell you if there was a real effort afoot to block all this tracking,” says Friess. “What you and I would end up with is more ads on the web that are less relevant to us.”

That, and your favorite sites might stop being free.