Google is the world’s largest online advertising company. It generates billions of dollars of revenue per year tracking users across the internet. It would be logical to think that Google would want to avoid installing anti-tracking devices on its software.
However, after Microsoft added standardized Do Not Track protection to Internet Explorer 10, Google decided to add the same feature into its Chrome browser. Firefox also has the feature, which means Chrome is the last of the major browsers to add DNT functionality.
What is Do Not Track?
Do Not Track is an honor-based system designed to protect internet users from harmful tracking cookies. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to distinguish between harmful tracking cookies and harmless tracking cookies, so Do Not Track basically just removes the browser’s ability to accept any types of cookies aside from login codes.
In Internet Explorer 10, Do Not Track is enabled by default. With Chrome, that is not the case. However, any Chrome user can turn on Do Not Track with just a few simple steps:
Step 1) Click on the three straight horizontal lines in the top right corner of your Chrome browser
Step 2) Scroll down to ‘About Google Chrome’ to automatically update to the latest version of the browser
Step 3) Restart Chrome after the update is complete to apply changes
Step 4) Head to the Settings menu (under the same three horizontal lines button you clicked above)
Step 5) Click Show advanced settings
Step 6) Scroll down to Privacy and tick the box beside Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic
That’s it! Do Not Track will be enabled on all future website visits.
Why Do Not Track probably doesn’t matter
Do Not Track is being called a ‘fig leaf’ by some PC security experts due to the unwillingness of advertisers to adapt to the changes. In other words it appears to provide protection without actually offering any real benefit.
As a result, Chrome added Do Not Track functionality very quietly. Whether this is because they don’t believe in the system or because they depend on internet advertising in order to make a profit isn’t clear. However, the phrasing Google uses in the settings menu is significant. Ticking a box that says “Send a ‘Do Not Track’ request with your browsing traffic” sounds a lot less important than ticking a box that says “Enable Do Not Track.” It sounds like Google doesn’t believe in the system.
And why should they? Do Not Track is a voluntarily regulated system. In other words, website administrators have no obligation to turn off tracking cookies when they encounter a Do Not Track request. The system is honor-based, and websites who violate the system (which, currently, is most of the websites on the internet) cannot really be punished.
But in any case, Do Not Track might one day prevent cookies and other tracking tools from being downloaded into your browser’s files. By enabling it on Google Chrome, you should be able to prevent some websites from tracking your journeys across the internet.
A better solution
If you don’t want third parties to track you as your internet usage, then Chrome has an even better solution for you – Incognito Mode. Incognito Mode can be accessed by pressing Shift+Ctrl+N while using Google Chrome. It opens a new browser window where history, temporary internet files, and other information will not be saved as you browse.
Since Do Not Track is facing limited adoption numbers, Incognito Mode is basically the best and most convenient way to avoid being tracked online. Until Do Not Track gains some traction or legitimate recognition, we recommend using Incognito Mode.