3 min read

DuckDuckGo, the browser known for its privacy protection policies, has proposed draft legislation which will require sites to respect the Do Not Track browser setting. Called, the “Do-Not-Track Act of 2019”, this legislation will mandate websites to not track people if they have enabled the DNT signal on their browsers. Per a recent study conducted by DuckDuckGo, a quarter of people have turned on this setting, and most were unaware big sites do not respect it.

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””] Do-Not-Track Signal” means a signal sent by a web browser or similar User Agent that conveys a User’s choice regarding online Tracking, reflects a deliberate choice by the user. It complies with the latest Tracking Preference Expression (DNT) specification published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)[/box]

DuckDuckGo’s act just comes days after Google announced more privacy control to its users. Last week, Google launched a new feature allowing users to delete all or part of the location history and web and app activity data, manually.  It has a time limit for how long you want your activity data to be saved: 3 or 18 months, before deleting it automatically. However, it does not have an option to not store history automatically.

DuckDuckGo’s proposed ‘Do-Not-Track Act of 2019’ legislation details the following points:

  1. No third-party tracking by default. Data brokers would no longer be legally able to use hidden trackers to slurp up your personal information from the sites you visit. And the companies that deploy the most trackers across the web — led by Google, Facebook, and Twitter — would no longer be able to collect and use your browsing history without your permission.
  2. No first-party tracking outside what the user expects. For example, if you use Whatsapp, its parent company (Facebook) wouldn’t be able to use your data from Whatsapp in unrelated situations (like for advertising on Instagram, also owned by Facebook). As another example, if you go to a weather site, it could give you the local forecast, but not share or sell your location history.

The legislation would have exceptions for debugging, auditing, security, non-commercial research, and journalism. However, each of these exceptions would only apply if a site adopts strict data-minimization practices. These include using the least amount of personal information needed, and anonymizing it when possible.

Also, restrictions would only come into play only if a consumer has turned on the Do Not Track setting in their browser settings.

In case of violation of the Do-Not-Track Act of 2019, DuckDuckGo proposes an amount no less than $50,000 and no more than $10,000,000 or 2% of an Organization’s annual revenue, whichever is greater, can be charged by the legislators.

If the act passes into law, sites would be required to cease certain user tracking methods, which means fewer data available to inform marketing and advertising campaigns. The proposal is still quite far from being turning into law but presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposal to regulate “big tech companies”, may give it a much-needed boost.

Twitter users complimented the act.

For the full text, download the proposed Do-Not-Track Act of 2019.

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Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.