Guest Post: Effective Measure CTO on how they are implementing Do Not Track

As part of the ongoing discussion about Do-Not-Track in browsers, it’s important to hear from companies who are actually implementing these technologies in the field. Today’s guest post is from Andrew Julian, CTO of Effective Measure, which provides “cutting edge digital Audience Measurement, website rankings, internet demographics and media planning tools for publishers, agencies and digital marketers.” Effective Measure is one of the very first companies to implement Do-Not-Track in production.

Recently at Effective Measure, we rolled out support for the Do Not Track (DNT) header available in the newer browsers being released.

The Reason we chose to support the DNT Header

At Effective Measure, we strongly believe that the individual’s absolute right to privacy should balance and compliment the need to keep the World Wide Web open and commercially viable. Already, a myriad of publishers are grappling with the tectonic shifts occurring in the new way we value and engage with content.

Fundamentally, we believe that individuals have a right to feel safe online. Individuals should have the confidence of knowing that their personal information is secure and cannot be used against them in unexpected or unintended ways.

At the same time, we strongly feel that it is imperative to not rush to suspect all forms of information collection occurring on the Web as dangerous or invasive.

There is a huge difference between the collection of anonymous online usage data-which is converted into mutually beneficial services such as analytics and ratings, and the deceptive collection of sensitive, personally identifiable information for potentially more sinister purposes.

While there is still significant debate occurring across the world as to whether the DNT header should wipe out every trace of measurement, including anonymous measurement, we believe that we are able to provide a fair solution that serves the needs of individuals and publishers.

To meet the needs of these two parties, we implement the DNT header to supress a number of pieces of information that can be identified to the remote users computer – notably their IP address and User Agent (a value sent by your browser on each request to identify your browser, its version and the operating system used).

Inclusive to the solution that we offer, we flag traffic coming from users who send the DNT header. This is then discounted from any of our products or services above and beyond core audience measurement.

We believe that as individuals become well informed and educated about the stark difference between the audience measurement that we conduct to the other more pervasive forms of collection leading to profile generation and behavioural targeting, a more developed view of how the DNT should be implemented will organically emerge.

As a best practice company, we will support any industry consensus that develops around the DNT as we believe that audience measurement can be ethical, safe and accurate.

A healthy and well-audited digital ecosystem that drives investment and better content will serve to benefit not only publishers and advertisers, but also more importantly, end-users.

Our Implementation

Our implementation consists of looking for the DNT=1 on every request. If the header is found to be present, we will return the following addition to our JavaScript as confirmation of the mode:

void(‘DO NOT TRACK’);

This instructs our measurement systems to not log the IP, User Agent and Page URL of the user, and flags their Page View with a DNT flag, allowing us to factor our this traffic from any further use beyond the anonymous, aggregate measurement of a websites audience.

How we see the DNT Header evolving

We will be actively monitoring any developments around exception lists that occur, and industry agreed consensus around the users understanding of what should occur when the DNT header is activated.

One future approach that we would fully support is that a list of trusted measurement top-level domains (i.e. “effectivemeasure.net”) could be added to an exemption list, and instead of sending DNT=1 would instead send DNT=0.

We believe this solution would be best-managed using 3rd party data sources consumers can rely on, such as PrivacyChoice, and not having them opt-in on a case-by-case basis.

This entry was posted in Best Practices, Do Not Track, Pros, Self-Regulation. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Guest Post: Effective Measure CTO on how they are implementing Do Not Track

  1. Pingback: Will behavioral icons matter on mobile? | PrivacyChoice Blog

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