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Google Accedes to Providing Do-not-track Button for Users
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Following intense attacks over its changing privacy practices, internet giant Google agreed to add a “do-not-track” button to its web browser, Google Chrome.

This can have many implications as websites and businesses would have to treat analytics in a new manner. Most small businesses that used Google’s free web analytics software could be affected if users opt out of tracking.

Also businesses that used tracking features for targeted advertisement campaigns would be affected. However, this would provide greater freedom to the internet user as it would become increasingly difficult for small companies to glean data from his/her web history.

  
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All companies that have agreed to the new standards of internet usage have decided to refrain from collecting data for use in health care, credit, employment, or insurance decisions.

Susal Wojcicki, the senior vice president of advertising at Google issued a statement saying, “We’re pleased to join a broad industry agreement to respect the ‘Do Not Track’ header in a consistent and meaningful way that offers users choice and clearly explained browser controls.”

Surreptitious tracking without explicitly notifying the user and collecting user data has become a bone of contention in recent times between users of web applications and big companies.

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With this move, Google joins Mozilla which added such a button in its browser last year. Microsoft was the first to follow Firefox.  Apple is expected to add a similar feature in its Safari browser in its next public release though the system is already there in the developer’s version.

Significantly, within the last few weeks, The Wall Street Journal had intimated Google of its code being used to exploit weaknesses in Apple’s Safari Web Browser, and of collecting information in opposition to the specifically expressed wishes of users who did not want to be tracked.



Google’s decision came back-to-back with the Obama government’s direction for lawmakers to draft a “privacy bill of rights” that will grant consumers greater control over how information about them is collected, shared, and stored.

The Privacy Framework, developed by the FTC is a 62-page document setting down privacy principles to be followed by companies.

In a letter accompanying the report, President Obama said, “Even though we live in a world in which we share personal information more freely than in the past, we must reject the conclusion that privacy is an outmoded value … It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”



 

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