Google Doesn’t Know What ‘Do Not Track’ Means

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Despite Apple, Mozilla and Microsoft all signing onto Do Not Track, Google remains curiously quiet on plans to add the ability for users to tell advertisers and publishers that they’d rather information on their browsing not be stored. The reason why, according to the man in charge of the company’s legal privacy matters? Because Google isn’t sure what Do Not Track actually is.

Talking about DNT at the pii2011 conference, Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy lawyer, said:

“What is the industry standard [for Do Not Track]? I understand there is work around a header, and we are looking at ways to incorporate that across various parts of our business. But I don’t know what a Do Not Track header is—I don’t know what that means. There is certain information we need to maintain in a [web browsing] session. We need more granularity and a more reasonable understanding of what it means to honor [Do Not Track] in a meaningful way.”

Google wasn’t the only company having a problem getting its collective head around the concept; Yahoo’s head of privacy, Anne Toth, agreed and added:

“Right now, when a consumer puts Do Not Track in the header, we don’t know what they mean. Privacy is not a one size fits all thing. Is analytics included in that? Is first-party customization included in that? I think it’s fair for Google to say it’s going to hang out until it figures out what it means first. If we all do privacy in radically different way, we’re going to confuse consumers.”

Confusing consumers? Never! Letting them be tracked by third parties without their knowledge or permission? Well, that’s another thing entirely, obviously…

More on Techland:

Twitter and Facebook Know Where You’ve Been Online? Do Not Like

Less Than 1% of Firefox Users Use ‘Do Not Track’ Function

Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE: Which Update Wins the Privacy Wars?