Privacy/Jan2011 DoNotTrack FAQ

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What is the issue that Mozilla is trying to address? As a nonprofit organization, Mozilla's mission is to make the Internet more open and participatory. We believe it is crucial to put users in control of their online experience. We are seeking ways to give users better insight and control into the ways their personal information is collected, used, stored and shared.

What exactly is Mozilla proposing? Mozilla is proposing a feature in Firefox that will allow the user to let a website know when they would like to opt-out of third-party tracking for behavioral advertising by transmitting a Do Not Track HTTP header every time their data is requested from the Web. When the feature is enabled, advertising networks will be told by Firefox that the user has asked to opt-out of behavioral advertising.

Is this Mozilla’s implementation of Do Not Track? Do Not Track is a first step in putting users in control of the way their information is collected and used online. The HTTP header is one exploration of a do not track capability for the Web; it is the first of many we're planning on investing in to help put users in control of their online experience.

Will the HTTP header be turned on for all Firefox users by default? No, users will need to enable the HTTP header in order to send the signal that they would like to opt-out of tracking. We aim to make this as easy as possible for the user by creating a clear way to opt-out via the Firefox UI. An example could be a checking a box clearly labeled on the Firefox privacy pane.

Will turning on the header block tracking? No. When the header is turned on it will send a signal to the website that the user would like to opt-out of tracking by third parties. This does not force an opt-out or currently require that websites comply. Our hope is that by implementing this header other browsers and websites will adopt and maintain it. It is the first step in developing a setting that clearly gives users a voice and a way to communicate with websites.

How will this change user’s current Firefox experience? Until the feature is enabled, there will not be a notable change in a user’s experience. Like so many new technologies, this feature will only change users’ Web experiences once advertising networks begin to support it; when they do, users may begin to see advertisements that are less tailored to websites they’ve visited.

How much work is required from website developers and advertisers? Many of the entities currently tracking users have a cookie-based opt-out system. This header is intended to be a signal equivalent to the presence of an opt-out cookie. We believe only a small number of changes from websites and advertisers are necessary to switch from looking for opt-out cookies to looking for the header.

Will industry regulators be able to enforce the HTTP header as a do not track tool? This is up to lawmakers and regulators. A header is a clear statement that tracking opt-out is desired.