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Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 01/24/2011

Google, Mozilla detail new privacy features

By Hayley Tsukayama

Google and Mozilla announced that they will have new privacy features in their browsers that allow users to exert more control over how their information is used by advertisers. After the Federal Trade Commission recommended that a do-not-track feature be implemented in all browsers, Internet Explorer announced that IE9 would have that option.

Monday, Google rolled out an extension in its Chrome browser called "Keep My Opt-Outs," which lets users permanently opt-out from online behavioral advertising. As Google outlines in its Public Policy Blog, users have asked for better Do Not Track options, namely ones that stay with a browser even after a user clears their cookies. Google said the feature will not interfere with regular web use, although opting out of the advertising may cause repeated or less relevant ads.

The extension is open-source, so other developers can tinker with it as well.

Meanwhile, Mozilla announced that it is working on a Do Not Track HTTP header to allow users to better understand and control how their personal information is being used by advertisers.

The header allows Firefox users to let advertisers know that they would like to opt-out of online behavioral advertising. Mozilla's Security and Privacy Engineer, Sid Stamm wrote on his personal blog that instead of using a hodge-podge of opt-out cookies, the header will transmit a message to tell all sites that a user wishes to opt-out. In their FAQ on the subject, the company wrote, "Our hope is that by implementing this header other browsers and websites will adopt and maintain it. It is the first step in developing a setting that clearly gives users a voice and a way to communicate with websites."

According to an e-mail from Mozilla spokeswoman Melissa Shapiro, it's not yet clear how long it will take to incorporate the feature into the browser. The feature may ship with Firefox 4.0, which is currently in beta testing, but it also mght not.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 24, 2011; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  FTC, Google, Privacy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Circuit: Firefox and Chrome include do-not-track, Facebook fundraising and privacy, what's next for net neutrality
Next: FCC net neutrality rules spark claims of violations


Isn't Google trying to have it both ways?

By blocking some -- but not all -- advertising technologies, what Google is really trying to do is gain competitive advantage over other advertising firms while telling consumers they're getting privacy protection. For example: Firm A uses cookies of some time, while Google uses advanced script technologies. Google distributes an add-on with "partial privacy protection" that blocks Frim A's cookies, but allows Google's scripts to run just as before -- now advertisers end up paying more money to Google instead of Firm A! While consumers' privacy is not at all enhanced.

The "ChromeBlock" extension has no such conflicts:

Are Google and a bunch of advertisers the ultimate solution to online privacy?

Posted by: 3881acb1 | January 24, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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