Monday, March 12, 2012

making DNT easier for web sites

Jos Boumans has done some analysis about the effect of turning on Do Not Track in your browser, and his findings show that sites in general are slow to show that they support the feature.
"As it stands, only 4 out of 482 measured top 500 sites are actively responding to the DNT header being sent." (Link)
As a user, it's hard to tell if sites are honoring my Do Not Track request, and as a site developer, it might be a daunting task to hack up my back-end code.  The W3C Tracking Protection working group at the W3C are working on helping out transparency and implementations, but in the meantime Jos has released his mod_cookietrack apache module to make it easier for site owners to track their users' clicks in a respectful way -- right now.
The Apache module, mod_cookietrack, does all sorts of stuff like mod_usertrack, but one thing it does better is honor DNT; if a server using this module sees "DNT: 1" in an HTTP request, it replaces the tracking cookie with one that says "DNT" -- something that's not unique to a visitor.

Apparently it was a lot of work to get DNT supported properly in mod_cookietrack, a native browser module that performs well and is safe on multiple threads, so thanks Jos for your hard work so that more organizations can support DNT on their web sites.