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Yahoo! Privacy The Internet

Yahoo Stops Honoring 'Do-Not-Track' Settings 300

Posted by Soulskill
from the doesn't-fit-the-new-logo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When web browsers started implementing 'do-not-track' settings, Yahoo got some respect for being the first of the huge tech companies to honor those settings. Unfortunately, that respect has now gone out the door. As of this week, Yahoo will no longer alter their data collection if a user doesn't want to be tracked. They say there are two reasons for this. First, they want to provide a personalized web-browsing experience, which isn't possible using do-not-track. Second, they don't think do-not-track is viable. They say, '[W]e've been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.' It looks like this is another blow to privacy on the web."
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Yahoo Stops Honoring 'Do-Not-Track' Settings

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Horrible decision, a standard isn't being honored "EVERYWHERE" so you decide to undermine it entirely without replacement? What's the REAL reason, money?

    Sell your assets and gtfo!

    • Maybe they see the irony in maintaining a list of people who don't want to be tracked.
    • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:51AM (#46899859) Homepage Journal

      Horrible decision, a standard isn't being honored ANYWHERE so you decide to undermine it entirely without replacement?

      FTFY.

      The simple fact is that Do-Not-Track was a damned bogus idea from the outset. Saying to the massive web of advertising conglamorates and third parties -- all of which make more money the more they can identify you down to an individual -- "Won't you kindly not track me? That would just be great, thanks" is akin to asking the mob nicely not to burn your place down when you refuse to pay protection money, or calling up the NSA and asking them nicely to stop spying on your personal affairs.

      If you don't want to be tracked, you need to take steps to make it happen yourself. The tools are there -- use them. If enough people start blocking all forms of advertising, perhaps the intrusiveness and privacy violation will recede. Or maybe the entire advertising industry will collapse (one can always dream).

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        I agree, asking a remote server to not record the data you send it means you trust the server. If you do not trust it, then either to not use it or do not send it they data you're sending it.
      • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:30PM (#46900279)

        Part of the problem is what I believe to be a flawed business model for marketers. They feel that they need to somehow "steal" people's information and use it to "force" adds on them. The phrase "targeted" adds suggests a hostile approach. My impression is that most people want to see informative adds for products that they might buy. If it were easy for customers to craft their on online profiles so that they would see adds of interest to them, advertisers would be able to directly provide relevant information.

        Right now I'm not in the market for a car - all the adds in the world won't do any good. In a few years when I am ready to buy, I will want to see information on the types of cars that I might consider buying. The way things are set up now, immediately after I buy a car I will be flooded with car adds - despite the fact that a recent purchases is the least likely to buy again.

        • I think that's wildly missing the point.

          Advertisers bend over backwards to find out your interests voulontarily and send you targeted information. Google lets you know what it thinks it knows about you [techsupportalert.com] and, at least the last time I saw it, lets you edit it. Or at least gives you the impression that you can edit it. Fill out online surveys, etc. They try to make it VERY easy.

          And yet, they're resorting to tracking why? Because the vast majority of people won't voulontarily tell advertisers what
          • I don't think the tools are well known. For instance I didn't know I could get at my google info.

            A more serious problem is the lack of trust. There is a concern that you will only be able to add information, not remove it, and your spam levels will just increase. (this may not be true, but its a valid concern).

    • by B33rNinj4 (666756)
      Mayer needs new drapes for her conference room.
    • They're trying too, they're just not really good at anything though so it may take a long time...
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Horrible decision, a standard isn't being honored "EVERYWHERE" so you decide to undermine it entirely without replacement? What's the REAL reason, money?

      The standard approach is not to honour it.

    • Its not being honored because some geniuses decided that it would be a great idea to make DNT a default setting-- which made it UTTERLY PREDICTABLE that websites would eventually stop honoring it.

      Good call, though guys. We won the ideological fight by making it the default, even if practically speaking we shot ourselves in the foot. Now we can continue to criticize Firefox and Chrome for defaulting DNT off, and praise IE for singlehandedly tanking the idea!

  • Code words for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:33AM (#46899635)

    That is corporate speak for, "we decided we could make more money this way, so here is a bs reason for us to change, when we really just want more money."

    • It was a dumb idea anyway. Asking a web server to honor the "do not track" setting is like asking my dog to guard a plate of cookies. If you want this to work, you've got to control privacy from the client, somehow. Alternately, you need a legal remedy of some sort.

  • by genner (694963) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:34AM (#46899643)
    Anyone savvy enough to care about this issue stop using Yahoo long ago anyway.
    • by knotprawn (1935752) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:38AM (#46899699)
      I know some people who still use Slashdot
    • by Taelron (1046946)
      I wish I had mod points today... I was going to ask the same thing. Yahoo search stopped being relevant 6 or 7 years ago...
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:58AM (#46899945)

      Anyone savvy enough to care about this issue stop using Yahoo long ago anyway.

      You are equating "care about this issue" with "don't want to be tracked". That is not always true. I care very much about my privacy. But, in most cases, I want to be tracked. I get a more personalized experience, and I see fewer ads that are irrelevant to me. When I want privacy, I open a new private browser window. There is a tradeoff between privacy and personalization, and not every informed user wants, or should want, 100% privacy 100% of the time.

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        Yes, thank you.

        I agree 100%, I see ads of things I actually want, from brands I don't know.

        The google cards on my phone are great, finding information about products I searched for, and news updates about subjects.

        The personalized experience is fantastic.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The ads are not "relevant" to you, they are what advertisers want you to see. If you are a young male expect lots of scantily clad women waving stuff in your face. If you are a mother you will probably be hit with more "one weird trick to shed pregnancy pounds" or Jezebel ads. Six months after you buy a car you will still be getting ads for them.

        The advertisers don't have enough information to to give you really relevant ads. Many of the most relevant products might not even be advertised on Yahoo anyway. A

        • The ads are not "relevant" to you, they are what advertisers want you to see.

          Those things aren't mutually exclusive.

          The advertisers don't have enough information to to give you really relevant ads.

          Then isn't the solution, if you want what the GP professes to want, less privacy?

          Best thing to do is block ads and just google when you want something.

          Ironic that you're citing one of the biggest data-aggregating advertisers out there today as a relevant source, when you appear to be arguing against exactly what t

          • by sinij (911942)
            Ads are not about informing you, they are about manipulating you. Otherwise, why would Coke keep advertising? Do you think there anyone left that is not aware it exists?
        • by sinij (911942)
          Exactly! Ads are mostly about manipulation, not providing you with information.

          For example, you don't drink coke because you like sugary carbonated drinks, you drink it because you now unconsciously associate sugary carbonated drinks with Coke. This way when it is time to pick your beverage, instead of cognitively-intense process of evaluating available choices you default to "the usual". Every time you are blasted with Coke ad this connection gets reinforced... you do you think there anyone left on Earth
      • by sinij (911942)

        Please, nobody want to see ads. There are people who blocking them, and there are people who don't know how.

  • Surprise, anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gaygirlie (1657131) <{gaygirlie} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:34AM (#46899657) Homepage

    Has it ever been a surprise to anyone that a measure that service-providers must voluntarily follow would not be followed? I mean, if by not following the measure you can generate more cash than by following it then why would you choose to do it, especially if no one else does it either? No, do-not-track was doomed all the way from the beginning.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      There's no technological barrier to ignoring robots.txt, yet Google, Yahoo and the rest obey the standard meticulously. Does this mean that my own right to privacy is given less regard than a web server's?

      • Not obeying robots.txt can land you into a never ending spiral of following links to the same content with different URLs
      • Commercial search engies must skate a fine line between fair use and copyright violation. There is at least some potential that ignoring robots.txt could land them in legal trouble.

        At the moment, lacking contrary legislation, user-identifiying information that is transmitted to a server is considered property of that server owner. If there was legislation defining that information as property of the user, much like Canada (among others) defines metered electricity usage information as belonging not to the u

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        Not honoring robots.txt could land them in a DMCA issue, while tracking you is just recording facts.
  • Simple enough to fix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JudgeFurious (455868) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:37AM (#46899687)
    Yahoo stops using "Do-Not-Track" and in response people who care about it implement "Do-Not-Yahoo". These things tend to work themselves out over time.
    • Yahoo stops using "Do-Not-Track" and in response people who care about it implement "Do-Not-Yahoo". These things tend to work themselves out over time.

      You may remember exactly every service you use(d) that had a Yahoo email account as the main or fallback address, but the majority of folk out there don't. Admittedly, some of the fault is their own, but they are locked-in to a service that has now decided to abuse them for cash.

  • I am fine with sacrificing user friendliness for my privacy. Do not track me or I won't use your services. I have two yahoo emails which incidentally are used as account/spam dumps. I won't even use them for that if this is how Yahoo has chosen to do things.

    • by jmd (14060)

      Funny..my Yahoo account is a spam dump too.

      I find it comical that when I empty my spam folder an advertisement pops up in the window. Sad

  • My Standard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Banichi (1255242) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:39AM (#46899721)

    >'we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.'

    Here is my 'standard'; NoScript and AdBlock Plus.

  • The WWW is dead. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:40AM (#46899737)

    First, they want to provide a personalized web-browsing experience, which isn't possible using do-not-track.

    But the user clearly does not want a personalised web-browsing experience.

    Ghostery, Secret Agent, CS Lite and NoScript are essential today, and nobody should EVER go online without those, or some equivalent. Let them personalise that.

    The Web has been hijacked and is now fundamentally broken. It is being transformed into a locked-in content delivery platform, something like cable TV with a camera that records your every movement. It needs to be handled with gloves and goggles, like you would when accessing a chemical weapons research facility.

    We'll need to develop another Internet, this one has been taken over by marketroids and is beyond saving.

    • > But the user clearly does not want a personalised web-browsing experience.

      Until MSIE started lying about the user's preferences. The standard specifies what should be sent if the user has not expressed a preference. IE 10 lies and says the user requested a uncustomized version when they didn't. That makes the whole thing useless when browsers lie about what preferences the user expressed.

    • First, they want to provide a personalized web-browsing experience, which isn't possible using do-not-track.

      But the user clearly does not want a personalised web-browsing experience.

      Nobody can give me a "personalized" experience unless they can somehow read my mind.

      Do I want to constantly see ads for XYZ just because I once searched for XYZ or once visited the XYZ website? Fuck You Yahoo, Google and anyone else talking about a "personalized web-browsing experience"

    • by westlake (615356) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:36PM (#46900325)

      But the user clearly does not want a personalised web-browsing experience.

      The geek may not want the personalized browsing experience. But the geek doesn't speak for everyone.

      The Web has been hijacked and is now fundamentally broken. It is being transformed into a locked-in content delivery platform, something like cable TV

      What did you expect to happen when hundred of millions of people with no preconceptions of what the web and the Internet "should be" began purchasing broadband services? You can't even assume anymore that a user is accessing the web through a general purpose computer and browser ---

      and not an HDTV, WiFi Internet radio, e-book Reader, video game console, smartphone, tablet or some other device.

      We'll need to develop another Internet, this one has been taken over by marketroids and is beyond saving.

      Go for it.

      But you are building nothing but an echo chamber, a walled garden for the geek.

      Nothing but a bubble --- and bubbles burst,

  • by gsslay (807818) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:41AM (#46899747)

    The problem with "do not track" is that it was entirely up to the website to honour the browsing session. Most don't. And the ones that you'd reallywant to not have track you are the ones that really ignore it. It's therefore useless.

    It's like a system of street privacy that relies on people being trusted to close their eyes when you walk by. Just because you ask them nicely. People will look, and you can't stop them.

    If you want privacy you have to be the one in control of what is being revealed. You can't rely on others to keep your privacy for you.

    • Indeed, I always thought "do not track" was a silly feature. I can ask the website to not track me, but how can I ever know what actually happens behind the scenes. If we really want such feature, the browser must somehow make me impossible to track.
    • by wile_e8 (958263)
      This is why I've never bothered with do-not-track settings. Not only is it wholly unenforceable, but it seems like a giant "Look at me!" sign. Given that the vast majority of people don't even know do-not-track exists and never change the default settings on any program, surfing with the do-not-track flag on seemed like a great way to tell the people I really don't want tracking me that I'm technically literate enough that they should pay closer attention to me.
    • Exactly. It was always a pretty bad idea. In fact, it reminds me a great deal of the RFC 3514 "evil bit" [wikipedia.org]

      Do-Not-Track is basically a "Don't be evil" bit. It makes a plea on behalf of the end user and the end user hopes some distant system honors it. Any time you implement some version of the evil bit, you should expect that it's not going to work.

      (Then again, there are a lot of tech features in use now -- such as a PDF owner_pass edit lock, or phone service Caller ID blocking -- which are also based on "plea

  • I "opted out" about 10 seconds after seeing that message on a Yahoo site.

    The thing is, I strenuously avoid Yahoo. After the latest Firefox update, though, typing a search in the address field doesn't go to my preferred (in settings) search engine, but instead to Yahoo.

    Yahoo search results are terrible, but most of the screen is filled with jumping icons a million other things I was not searching for.
    • You probably want to use "duckduckgo" instead of google as your default search provider.

      Google tracks a lot of information about you- even when you are anonymous. Last I heard it was 57 different things. I also keep googleleadservices and googleanalytics disabled in noscript.

      • Startpage is cool too.

      • You probably want to use "duckduckgo" instead of google as your default search provider.

        I would love to promote duckduckgo, but in reality the results that site brings up are seldom relevant, and normally suck.

        I've recently switched to using Startpage for searches, as it protects my "anonymity" and pulls relevant search results, since it uses Google search on the back end.

    • by Jbcarpen (883850)

      After the latest Firefox update, though, typing a search in the address field doesn't go to my preferred (in settings) search engine, but instead to Yahoo.

      Firefox stores data about which search engine to use in a set of XML files. If something else gains access to those files, it can edit them to keep the name and icon of, e.g. google, but send the actual search to goatse (or wherever). If you delete the files, then the "restore defaults" button on the "manage search engines" panel will enable, and restore the originals.

  • Fortunately, there is little or no loss to the modern day internet user experience by ignoring Yahoo completely, either.
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:55AM (#46899911)

    First, they want to provide a personalized web-browsing experience, which isn't possible using do-not-track.

    This is one of the phrases and behaviors that annoy me the most about various sites, especially search sites. I search for both personal and work related things, don't want searches tailored to anything other than the specific thing for which I'm searching at that time. I generally don't care what I searched for 24h ago (looking at you Google side-bar).

    In a related rant, I can't stand the Google side-bar, Instant and Suggestions and make every attempt to disable and or strip them out (using Proxomitron) though now that Google has switched to HTTPS, that makes things more difficult for me - sigh.

    Dear Providers, Don't "help" me unless I ask for it.

  • by HybridST (894157) on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:56AM (#46899921) Homepage

    IIRC yahoo is worth less than nothing at the moment. Re: www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-17/is-yahoo-s-business-worth-less-than-nothing

    Why would I listen to a company with such outstanding performance?

  • by drolli (522659) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:01PM (#46899979) Journal

    Noscript, only per session cookies, and surfing trough a proxy.

  • I can't say I'm surprised. Do not track settings that are optional on the part of the sites you're visiting are simply never going to work - the ones that'd honour it are also the sites you wouldn't be particularly worried about in the first place. Targeted advertising and profiling is big business, and the big revenue stream for the 'free' content providers. It really comes as no surprise - pretty fundamentally you get what you pay for. If you're paying nothing in monetary terms, then you'll be paying in p
  • by zarmanto (884704) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:06PM (#46900037) Journal

    "However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.' It looks like this is another blow to privacy on the web."

    I don't know about you, but I can think of one fairly effective and extremely easy to use "standard"... AdBlock.

  • Maybe it's time for the legal system to get involved. If entities won't honor privacy, maybe we need the equivalent of the "Do Not Call" list for telephones implemented for the internet. Of course companies like Google and Yahoo will then just alter their service agreements to state that you do in fact agree to be tracked.

  • by XB-70 (812342)
    Yahoo! has stopped honouring so much of its user experience that they are doomed to failure.

    Yahoo! Groups is bloated with spam that can't be blocked by its admins.

    Yahoo! Messenger is so fraught with bugs and bloatware that users are fleeing in droves.

    The main Yahoo! website is dated and mindless.

    Yahoo! Mail is an abomination of unusable kludges and missteps.

    Lastly, who uses Yahoo! to search for anything anymore, anyway?

    Put a wooden stake in it, this thing is dead.

  • The DNT standard specifies what should be sent under three conditions:
    a) The user expresses that they DO want customization
    b) The user expresses that they do NOT want customization
    c) The user doesn't express any preference

    IE 10 lies and says b when the truth is c. That makes it impossible to know who actually chose DNT. The whole thing is useless now that it doesn't to indicate the user's stated preference.

    • by radarskiy (2874255) on Friday May 02, 2014 @01:19PM (#46900735)

      From http://tools.ietf.org/id/draft... [ietf.org]
      "5. Header Syntax

            The Do Not Track HTTP header, "DNT", must take one of two values: "1"
            ("opt out") or "0" ("opt in"). All other values are reserved. ...
      6.3. Default

            A user agent MAY adopt NO-EXPRESSED-PREFERENCE or OPT-OUT by default.
            It MUST NOT transmit OPT-IN without explicit user consent."

      The standard explicitly allows opt-out as a default

      • The proposal you linked to was voted down several years ago. The last call standard is:

        Key to that notion of expression is that the signal sent must reflect the user's preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism ..
        A user agent must have a default tracking preference of unset (not enabled)

        See

  • Does Slashdot get all its news stories from FARK.com?

    I read most of the current crop there first.

  • Anyone working or have a easy to use program that writes a false browsing track? Let the trackers try to make sense out of compromised data. The "easy to use" is what I want.
  • by Kinwolf (945345) on Friday May 02, 2014 @01:24PM (#46900775)
    Good day for the EFF to release the alpha of privacy badger that blocks tracking cookies http://www.pcworld.com/article... [pcworld.com] https://www.eff.org/privacybad... [eff.org]
  • Any standard that's effective and easy to use will not be accepted by the advertising industry, so making the "success" of a standard contingent on that last is nonsense. The DNT standard does serve one useful purpose whether or not it's accepted: it provides a single, easy-to-interpret, unambiguous indication to advertisers as to whether or not the user has consented to tracking. It removes their ability to say "Well, they didn't say otherwise so we assumed they're OK with it.". It does that whether or not

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