updated 06:55 pm EDT, Wed April 13, 2011
Leaves only Chrome without a 'Do Not Track' option
The latest developer release of Lion, Apple's next major upgrade to Mac OS X due sometime this summer, has updated the Safari web browser with a "Do Not Track" feature to prevent marketers from monitoring users' online activities, The Wall Street Journal reports. Apple joins Mozilla and Microsoft in making "Do Not Track" technology available in their current or upcoming browsers; Google remains the only major browser maker that will not commit to implementing the capability in its Chrome browser.
Though the major online advertising networks haven't yet agreed to honor the system, legislation moving through Congress may force their hand. A privacy bill introduced Wednesday by Florida Republican Cliff Stearns and Utah Democrat Jim Matheson would encourage companies to be more candid with users about how they are being tracked, and would require online advertising firms like Google to create privacy policies that explicitly spell out the data collected about them, and how it is used and sold. The bill calls for enforcement through the Federal Trade Commission, and for the data-collection industry as a whole to develop a self-policing program that the FTC would approve.
The "Do Not Track" tools in browsers currently do not guarantee that users won't be monitored; they depends on the advertising firms voluntarily agreeing to honor the requests made by the technology. The bill introduced Wednesday doesn't mandate that online advertising firms honor the requests, but does call for a system where the industry would agree to do so. [via The Wall Street Journal]