Do Not Track requests are basically a way for you to politely ask websites not to track your online activity, and I probably don’t need to tell you how hilariously ineffective it is, to the point where it can’t even be considered a placebo. That’s why privacy advocates have been calling on the FCC to force companies to honor these requests, with Consumer Watchdog filing a petition earlier this year. Unfortunately, the FCC has made it clear that it has no intention of doing that.
US regulators rejected an effort on Friday to force Google, Facebook and other popular web sites to honor “Do Not Track” requests from users, in a setback for digital privacy advocates. The FCC dismissed a petition that would have required Internet giants to let consumers opt out of having their online activity tracked. The decision secured a win for Silicon Valley businesses that rely on monetizing reams of personal data. The FCC said it “has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers,” or companies that provide content and services over the Internet. Digital privacy advocates argue consumers should be allowed to submit “Do Not Track” requests to tell a website not to collect information about their online browsing habits. Some websites do honor “Do Not Track” requests, but doing so is largely voluntary. The June petition, filed by the group Consumer Watchdog, sought to capitalize on the FCC’s recent net neutrality protections that allowed the regulator to punish Internet service providers for violating certain privacy protections.