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Mozilla aims to end online tracking, improve privacy - Will it work?

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From the 'TOR to the Rescue' files:

Websites and online service track what you and I do -- that's how some of them make their money. Is it a privacy violation? Maybe.

In an effort to help protect user privacy, Mozilla is now launching a - Do Not Track - effort which has the potentially to revolutionize user privacy (and potentially wreck many advertising revenue models).

"As the first of many steps, we are proposing a feature that allows users
to set a browser preference that will broadcast their desire to opt-out
of third party, advertising-based tracking by transmitting a Do Not
Track HTTP header with every click or page view in Firefox," Alex Fowler Global Privacy and Public Policy Leader at Mozilla wrote in a blog post. "When the
feature is enabled and users turn it on, web sites will be told by
Firefox that a user would like to opt-out of OBA. We believe the
header-based approach has the potential to be better for the web in the
long run because it is a clearer and more universal opt-out mechanism
than cookies or blacklists."

That's right - a header based solution. So no, it's not going to solve the problem any time soon, but it might -- eventually.

As Fowler points out, a header based solution is cleaner, but it's something that first needs to be implemented in the browser -- and that's where this plan falls apart, in the short term at least.

Firefox continues to gain share, but it shares market with IE, Safari, Chrome and Opera. For this header based approach to work, all of the major browsers would have to implement this same technology.

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