For those who have been here a long time, a major reason for my reducing the website the first time was the threat of government intervention requiring websites to honor “do not track” settings. You have probably noticed many websites now require you to consent to accepting a cookie in your browser on your first visit – this is being driven by privacy laws in Europe. I purposefully block access to this website from Europe, hoping to avoid being subject to European Union laws like hate speech prohibitions. I am not a citizen of the world.
“Do not track” was originally a voluntary thing added to a couple browsers, with the naïve belief that the Internet community could state that “do not track” has no legal significance and the governments would be prevented from engaging in civil or criminal prosecutions for a website owner refusing to honor “do not track”. Did I mention naive?
The Internet “community” has been fighting for several years over how to incorporate “do not track” into the Internet standards that apply to the entire world, with enough teeth to fend off the aspirations of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – but override the decision-making process of the Internet governance, which is no longer under United States control.
The current compromise seems to be that “first party” websites (like this one) could continue to track your activities even if you turn on “do not track”. I do not care what any one person is doing, but most of the value of the website is created by tracking the activity of all visitors – to create most popular shows, stations and the like. There is no profit motive to my tracking. I am not unaware that do not track has popular support, I believe people do not understand that the “free stuff” on the Internet goes away.
The proposed rules would prohibit third-party websites – who I do not control – from tracking you against your will. I have not generally used third-party services – there are significant recent exceptions – the blog post with the Instagram picture of Donald Trump. I am a little surprised nobody objected, yet. Also, the Disqus commenting crossed that line. The total lack of interest means I probably will remove it. Incorporating a YouTube video also enables Google tracking you here, even if you don’t view the video.
If the rules prevent aggregate tracking of my visitors and threaten me with Civil or criminal prosecution, I push the OFF button and that’s the end and leave the Internet to the global mega corporations, which is exactly the outcome that the government wants. Entities like Google and Facebook which willingly supply very detailed psychographic information to the government “intelligence” agencies would be exempt from this rule, of course.