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Google says 'do not track' option coming to Chrome by end of year

September 15, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

This week Google announced that it will be adding a 'do not track' (DNT) option to Chrome, its popular Web browser, by the end of the year.

This sounds like a good thing, right? Who likes feeling that their every move is being followed on the Internet?

But Google didn't make much of a deal about it.

"We undertook to honor an agreement on DNT that the industry reached with the White House early this year," a spokesman for the company said in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times. "To that end we’re making this setting visible in our Chromium developer channel, so that it will be available in upcoming versions of Chrome by year’s end."

Not exactly a lot of enthusiasm in there.

Google did not provide an exact date that it will make the DNT option available, but when it does finally roll out, users will be able to go into Chrome's settings and select "Do Not Track." Once those settings have been saved, Chrome will send a message to every website that a user visits that she does not want the website to track where the user goes next. 

Chrome is the last of the major Web browsers to include a DNT option. Both Mozilla's Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browsers already give users the option, and Internet Explorer has even made it the default setting. 

So what took Google so long?

One clue may come from Susan Wojcicki, the company's senior vice president of advertising. Shortly after Google announced it would work with the White House and the FTC on providing a do not track option for its Chrome users, she wrote in a blog post: "There has been a lot of debate over the last few years about personalization on the web.We believe that tailoring your web experience -- for example by showing you more relevant, interest-based ads, or making it easy to recommend stuff you like to friends -- is a good thing."

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