Your browser’s “Do Not Track” privacy feature doesn’t stop sites tracking you

It’s an open secret that your online browsing habits aren’t private. Chrome, Firefox and other browsers have taken steps to get users to take an interest in data security, but personal data is still a valuable currency for many companies.

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Case in point: the “Do Not Track” signal your web browser sends to websites, which can be turned on in its Privacy or Security menu , doesn’t actually stop websites tracking you. As many as a quarter of internet users use this feature in an attempt to protect their data from various companies, but it just doesn’t work.

The feature’s only effect is to send a signal to websites you visit telling them you don’t want to be followed by them or third-party trackers and settings cookies. If they listen, however, is another story.

Currently, only a shockingly smaller number of websites actually comply, with Reddit and Pinterest among them. Most websites ignore this request, including Yahoo and Facebook, despite both sites initially pledging to respect it. This means these websites continue to collect data on your browsing habits, location and time spent online, even when you aren’t using the site itself.

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Concerns were raised about “Do Not Track” back in 2011, when Mozilla admitted that the feature “indicates a preference” instead of executed any noticeable change. But at a time when people are becoming increasingly protective of their data — and companies like Google and Facebook are getting clumsier with users’ personal information — it bears repeating that it’s surprisingly difficult to control how companies use your data.

Different websites track your information to varying degrees. Many of the most popular use session replay scripts which can record every single thing you type into their websites, others use the information to created targeted advertising or to sell to the government.

While this doesn’t have a damaging effect on your life, it may do for users in countries such as China, whose upcoming social credit score scheme which rates citizens based on their loyalty.

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