For a while now, the web browser vendors and major purveyors of targeted internet advertising have been working on a proposal for allowing users to prevent web sites from tracking their online activity and using it to “customize their web browsing experience,” a.k.a., displaying targeted advertisements which are, theoretically, tailored to the person viewing them.
Web tracking and targeted advertising is big business. In fact, some would say that without it, most of the free web sites you visit every day simply couldn’t exist. Facebook, HuffPo, Reddit, Gawker, etc. all pay the bills by selling advertising that is carefully targeted to individual users based on their past web browsing activity.
“Do Not Track” advocates say that users should have the right to preserve their privacy. Opponents, on the other hand, say that it improves everyone’s web experience by making it more likely that the content and ads they see will be interesting to them, and that (as noted above) without targeted advertising, many web sites simply could not afford to continue offering free content. Advocates respond by saying that whether someone’s web experience is targeted should be their choice, and that if targeted advertising becomes less profitable, web sites will be able to find other successful monetization strategies.