Do Not Track support in Adblock Plus [Updated] · 2011-03-25 23:22 by Wladimir Palant
Adblock Plus 1.3.5 has been released today. One of the new features is support for the Do Not Track proposal which was previously only available in development builds. Given that this feature is not obvious I want to answer some questions.
What is this Do Not Track proposal about?
The proposal defines a way for users to opt out of tracking. The browser sends a special value with each request to indicate that the user doesn’t wish that his data (and particularly movements across websites) is stored and analyzed. This approach is a vast improvement to the current state that requires you to maintain opt-out cookies for several dozen domains.
Does anybody currently honor Do Not Track header?
No, not that I know of. Fortunately, with Mozilla and Microsoft already supporting this approach and Federal Trade Commission leaning towards endorsing it, chances are good that this will change soon.
Update (2011-03-31): Less than a week later, this statement is already outdated. The Mozilla blog announced that Associated Press News Registry service already implemented the DNT header. That’s 800 news sites with 175 million unique visitors each month. And Mozilla has more good news, go read the article.
Doesn’t blocking ads have the same effect already?
Yes, it does. However, sometimes data on you will still be collected when you browse the web — be it because an ad server wasn’t on the block list or because the party collecting data isn’t an advertiser at all. You can think of Do Not Track as your second line of defense, for the cases where blocking fails.
How do I enable Do Not Track in Adblock Plus?
The easiest way is adding a filter subscription focusing on privacy protection. The logical choice is EasyPrivacy if your main filter subscription is EasyList or Fanboy’s Tracking List if your main filter subscription is Fanboy’s List. Both of these subscriptions already contain the necessary filter (
*$donottrack). You can also add this filter to your Adblock Plus filter list manually.
Why does Adblock Plus need to support Do Not Track if Firefox 4 already does it?
Adblock Plus supports a wide range of host applications, not only Firefox 4. Right now the only applications where we don’t support Do Not Track are Google Chrome and Firefox Mobile 4. But even if all applications adopt Do Not Track — a user who installs a privacy protection subscription in Adblock Plus already made a privacy choice, it makes sense to enable Do Not Track without asking again. Also, the Adblock Plus approach is more flexible and allows sending Do Not Track to particular servers only (right now it is not clear whether this flexibility will be necessary).
I use a privacy protection subscription but I don’t like Do Not Track. How do I disable it?
You can add an exception rule like
@@*$donottrack to your Adblock Plus filter list. This will make sure that the Do Not Track header is never sent.
Commenting is closed for this article.