Let Me Track Myself, Too

Firefox is introducing this “Do Not Track” preference setting in its new release.

Opting out of tracking may be a solution for some, but it’s not for me. I don’t want opting out to be the only action I can take! If advertisers are interested in people like me, I want to know about it. Maybe they have a product I’m going to like.

I want two things:

  1. Precision. If advertisers are going to run their business around tracking me, at least I want them to count me in the right groups. I want them to know everything they need to know about people like me. But not more. As long as I’m part of a large enough group of people, go ahead and track away. I know that doesn’t give me a guarantee of privacy, but the horse has already left the barn. If advertisers improve their tools, and use larger samples, it’s more likely they won’t be able to tell me apart from the other members of the group.
  2. I want to know what the advertisers know about me. I want to see what exact information I’m giving to advertisers. This is difficult, I know, because where’s the motivation? Advertisers won’t do it unless they’re mandated, and as long as consumers aren’t feeling pain from the lack of transparency, they aren’t motivated to call for it. Instead of only offering an option to hide myself from advertisers, I want my browser to tell me “This is what Google/Doubleclick/some-other-ad-network knows about you, Darlene” and “This is the information that Alexa has gathered about you over the years, Darlene”.

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