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May 05, 2014

Yahoo Backtracks on "Do Not Track"


Yahoo has announced that it will no longer honor the “Do Not Track” feature in modern browsers, according to TechWeekEurope.

Yahoo cited a lack of standards as one of the reasons for not honoring the request. “We have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry,” the company said in a statement. “Users can still manage their privacy on Yahoo while benefiting from a personalised web experience.”

Almost all modern browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer support the proposed standard. Both Pinterest and Twitter honor the standard, though it’s by no means official, supported by researchers at Stanford and Princeton. Yahoo was one of the first major websites to support the Do Not Track standard.

Yahoo appears to reject the standard because the company’s business model, as put forth in its SEC filings, depends on delivering custom experiences, especially custom advertisements, to its users, including Tumblr, which the company purchased last year. Yahoo is competing with companies like Google and Microsoft which also depend on delivering targeted ads to users on their web properties. Users can disable targeted ads within Yahoo itself if they have an account.

While Do Not Track is still a de facto standard, that’s the way most Internet standards like TCP/IP have emerged, rather than being handed down from standards organizations like the ISO. Engineers traditionally implemented the functionality, then wrote protocols up in “Request for Comments” documents published by the Internet Engineering Task Force, which were adopted by other engineers by consensus.

This has been cited as one of the reasons the Internet is so resilient. New technologies have been honed by real-world experience rather than by engineers having to match standards that may look better on paper than in use.




Edited by Maurice Nagle


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