Following the FTC's final report on online consumer privacy earlier this week, which included support for companies to provide a Do Not Track feature so as to allow consumers to tell companies that they don't want their browsing activity tracked, Yahoo! has become the first company to announce that it will be implementing the mechanism on its global network.
Yahoo!, which is the second-highest ranked site for online video, released a statement on Thursday announcing that the Do Not Track feature would be launched by early summer and will be included on its website as well as its advertising properties, Right Media and Interclick. The company has been at work on the feature since last year and affirms that it follows the guidelines of the Digital Advertising Alliance.
The Do Not Track function has been widely called for since online privacy became a hot-button issue this year, what with several stories of companies tracking internet users via unscrupulous and perhaps even illegal methods rising in the muck. By implementing a Do Not Track header, web companies like Yahoo will enable consumers to tell third-party advertising companies that they do not want their information to be included in their data.
In the statement, Yahoo! said it will "continue to be at the forefront of industry best practices and self-regulatory initiatives."
Google has also indicated that it will develop a Do Not Track button for its browser, Chrome, while third-party developer Abine has developed a Do Not Track plug-in for Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari, and Mozilla's Firefox browsers.
While the Do Not Track feature will keep consumers safe from info-tracking third-party data collectors, it won't affect the way information is collected from first-party companies, i.e. those websites that people visit directly like Google, YouTube, The New York Times, and so on. However, to address the practices of first-party companies' collection of data, the White House released a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that lays out data collection guidelines for first-party companies to develop better practices for respecting consumer privacy.
Finally, the Do Not Track header will also provide consumer feedback to first-party companies that behave like third-party companies, like Facebook and how it utilizes its Like button on every website that's ever existed.