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Yahoo! Privacy The Internet

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

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 on Friday May 02, 2014 @11:33AM (#46899627)

    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!

  • 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."

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

    by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@[ ] ['hot' in gap]> 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 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.

  • 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 ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:09PM (#46900073)

    Google and Yahoo make money by selling information that they collect from users. Microsoft makes money by selling software.

    Microsoft is losing the battle for online advertising, so they are instead trying to poison the market. In MSIE 10 and 11, the "do not track" is on by default, which means the user never actually made a decision to set it. Microsoft's original plan was to diminish the ability of ad agencies like Google to collect information. But instead, they gave those agencies an excuse to ignore the setting, since no human made a decision to set it. Some more ethical ad agencies check the browser ID and only ignore the setting if it is MSIE. Unfortunately, ethics and advertising seldom go together.

  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:13PM (#46900111)

    That's not how it works, it's not a list unless they make a list. Not to mention they championed the idea and were early adopters.

    Yahoo pretended to support Do Not Track only because they figured anyone stupid enough to actually use Yahoo for anything was too stupid to figure out how to turn it on.

    Then Microsoft made it on by default in Internet Explorer, still the most widely used browser and probably used by 98% of the people stupid enough to use Yahoo for anything. All of a sudden, Yahoo didn't think Do Not Track was such a good idea any more.

  • by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:18PM (#46900165)
    So you are arguing that privacy/security on by default is a bad thing?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:22PM (#46900207)

    Not really. What you're thinking of as a 'product' is more accurately described as 'bait'. Calling it a 'product' is akin to calling a fisher's lure or net the product, rather than calling the *fish* the product.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:33PM (#46900293)

    When the privacy/security decision is left up to the advertiser, it is deeply flawed and an unfeasible solution. Additionally the DNT header grants the tracker additional entropy for which your identity can be singled out with.

    It was a really silly idea, nobody really expected these guys would honer this, even if it did have legislative backing.

  • 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 Monoman ( 8745 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:39PM (#46900351) Homepage

    Privacy/Security != Anonymity

    There are subtle differences depending on the interpretations.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @01:12PM (#46900691)

    Very few people want to be tracked by strangers.

    If you ask "Do you want to be tracked by strangers?", then of course nearly everyone will say "no".

    If you ask "Do you want web services personalized to your needs and preferences?", most people will say "yes".

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:32PM (#46902735) Homepage Journal

    So you are arguing that privacy/security on by default is a bad thing?

    Nobody's arguing that. The mistake is in thinking of DNT with a privacy/security mechanism. If that's what it were, Microsoft's decision would be defensible or even good. But DNT is something totally different. I'd argue two things:

    1) DNT is for expressing a user's preference. Not even just a preference, but the user's preference. It is impossible for any application's default setting to express a user's preference for anything. (Your editor can default to a white background, but it can't, out of the box, honestly tell other people that YOU prefer swiss cheese over provolone. The person who wrote your editor might have some strong opinions and could even show some polling information, but in the end, he doesn't really know what kind of cheese you want. He can only take a guess.) MSIE's default DNT:swiss header is a communication between a web server and Microsoft Corporation, rather than a communication between a web server and a user.

    Yes, a DNT:swiss default is a bad thing (just as bad as a DNT:provolone default). By doing that, Microsoft undermined DNT and helped the ad industry justify ignoring it. If you're a user, you should be angry at MS about this (at least so far as DNT is important at all).

    2) DNT is nearly useless for protecting a user's security. If you want security, then you must deny capability to your adversary, or put costs on things, not merely politely ask him to behave in a certain manner. That means having your browser not initiate certain connections, or not send certain things (or send noise) over those connections, or .. whatever.

    I have to say "nearly" useless because at least DNT could signal that some users care, but just don't care enough to stop sending intell. But it looks like this subtlety was lost on .. damn .. nearly everyone, I think.

    Up to now I've thought of DNT as a basically good idea (a weak one, but still positive), but maybe it's time to accept that if nobody understands DNT then it can't possibly communicate anything meaningful.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!