Web Companies Will Scale Back Tracking a Bit, If You Insist

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Skynet.
Skynet. Photo: Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images

The ever-growing scrutiny about the way we're tracked online by technology and advertising companies hoping to sell us things has resulted in the acceptance of a "do-not-track button" by tech giants like Google. Such an option was previously available on Firefox, Internet Explorer, and new Apple products, but tracking companies and advertisers had not yet agreed to honor it until now. And yet, it's still far from absolute, The Wall Street Journal reports:

The new do-not-track button isn't going to stop all Web tracking. The companies have agreed to stop using the data about people's Web browsing habits to customize ads, and have agreed not to use the data for employment, credit, health-care or insurance purposes. But the data can still be used for some purposes such as "market research" and "product development" and can still be obtained by law enforcement officers.

The do-not-track button also wouldn't block companies such as Facebook Inc. from tracking their members through "Like" buttons and other functions.

The agreement will be recognized within the next nine months. An ACLU lawyer calls it "a good start," but make no mistake: They still know. Everything, basically.