Several browsers, including the latest versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer have introduced do not track features within the last month. The features work by indicating to a website whether the visitor wishes to have their movements tracked online. The latest version of Internet Explorer boasts a feature that supposedly forcibly blocks tracking from any unapproved sites. (Check back here in the next week for a post by Chris on the Do Not Track features in IE9.)
In an opinion piece in AdAge, FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch clarifies that the concept of Do Not Track has not been endorsed or even properly vetted by the FTC. Rosch notes that there is an array of consequences to keep in mind if a consumer adopts a Do Not Track mechanism (like the features in Firefox or IE9, for example.)
“To begin with,” Rosch writes, “a consumer may sacrifice being served relevant advertising. On a related note, there is academic research suggesting that in order to compensate for the loss of the ability to track consumer behavior and the associated ability to serve relevant advertising, advertisers may need to turn to advertising that is more ‘obtrusive’ in order to attract consumers’ attention.”
He also points out that the widespread adoption of overly broad Do Not Track mechanisms might lead to a reduction in free content and innovations “across the entire Internet economy.” Read the rest of his thoughts on the Do Not Track proposal here.
What are your thoughts on Rosch’s opinion? Do you agree/disagree?