Removing Do-Not-Track support from Adblock Plus · 2012-10-27 01:10 by Wladimir Palant
I still believe that the Do-Not-Track proposal is the most promising idea to let users opt out of tracking, it offers some value even to the people using Adblock Plus with the EasyPrivacy filter list. The proposal gained a lot of traction already and will continue to gain speed. Adblock Plus was one of the first implementors, and yet I decided that this feature is no longer worth keeping.
Somewhat more than a year ago I listed three compelling reasons to have Do-Not-Track implemented in Adblock Plus:
- Only the desktop Firefox had support for Do-Not-Track at that moment. This changed now and all the important platforms that Adblock Plus runs on (meaning Firefox, Firefox Mobile, SeaMonkey and Chrome) can now be configured to send the Do-Not-Track header.
- Adblock Plus can exclude some servers from Do-Not-Track, e.g. to avoid compatibility issues. These issues didn’t manifest however so it doesn’t look like this kind of flexibility is required.
- Adblock Plus users already made a privacy choice by adding EasyPrivacy or comparable filter list, they shouldn’t be required to dig up this option in the browser preferences. This is the only remaining reason that could justify this feature.
The specification evolved quite a bit since my initial implementation and merely sending the header is no longer sufficient — client-side detection is required as well, something that Adblock Plus cannot implement properly. Also, the Do-Not-Track implementation has generally grown more complex than initially anticipated, in Chrome it probably had some performance impact as well. So leaving this to browser developers seems to be the right decision.
Adblock Plus 1.3 for Chrome released yesterday no longer sends the Do-Not-Track header. This functionality will soon be removed from Adblock Plus for Firefox as well.
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