Google adds 'Do Not Track' to Chrome precursor

Privacy feature support shows up in Chromium, the project that feeds code into Chrome

Google has moved a step closer to making good on its promise to support "Do Not Track" in Chrome by the end of this year.

Chromium, Google's open-source project that feeds code into Chrome, released a build last week that includes the Do Not Track (DNT) privacy setting.

It's unclear how quickly the setting will be moved to the multi-channel build structure of Chrome itself. Google maintains three versions of Chrome: Dev, Beta and Stable, each succeeding version more polished than the last.

The Stable branch of Chrome is due for an upgrade: Google last updated the browser on July 30, when it shipped Chrome 21. The company usually upgrades Chrome every six to eight weeks, putting Chrome 22 on the horizon and Chrome 23, which is now in the Dev channel, up for delivery sometime in November.

In February, Google said it would add DNT support to Chrome after the White House said it would introduce new online privacy legislation in Congress.

Chrome joined other browsers, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari, that already transmitted special information with every HTTP page request to tell sites the user does not want to be tracked by online advertisers.

Then, Google promised to add DNT to Chrome by the end of the year, but declined to spell out a time or describe how the browser would present the option to users. Google was the last major browser maker to commit to DNT.

In Chromium "23.0.1266.0 build 156627" or later, the DNT setting appears under the "Privacy" section of the browser's Settings screen.

To pull up the Privacy section, users must first click the "Show advanced settings..." link at the bottom of the page. Checking the box marked "Send a 'Do Not Track' request with your browsing traffic" switches on the privacy feature.

Jonathan Mayer, a graduate student in computer science and law at Stanford University, and one of two researchers at Stanford who created the HTTP header concept to signal a user's DNT preference, bemoaned the placement of the setting in Chromium.

Chromium puts the 'Do Not Track' setting under the Privacy section of its Settings screen. Expect Chrome to do the same.

"Good: looks like Do Not Track will be in the Chrome privacy preferences. Less good: have to click 'Show advanced settings...' to see them," Mayer wrote on Twitter last Thursday.

Chrome places the Privacy section of Settings in the same location, however.

Although browsers have, or will, implement DNT on their end, the crux is websites, which must enable it on their ends. Twitter is the largest online service, by far, to have implemented DNT.

A group composed of advertisers, browser makers, privacy advocates and others have yet to finalize the DNT standard. The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) standards-setting group has, however, decided that browser makers cannot set the DNT signal for users.

But a move by Microsoft has roiled the group.

In May, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) would enable DNT by default. During Windows 8 setup, for example, DNT is automatically turned on if users accept the default settings offered during the operating system's setup. They can, however, switch it off during that setup process, or at any later time.

Google has said little publicly, but by the way it presents DNT in Chromium, it looks to be firmly in the off-by-default camp. Apple's Safari also leaves its DNT option unchecked.

Since May, members of the W3C group have debated whether websites should be required to honor IE10's on-by-default signal.

The controversy over IE10 and DNT was stirred again two weeks ago when developers of the Apache Web server software added a patch to ignore the DNT header when it is sent by IE10. According to U.K.-based Netcraft, Apache powers 55% of all active websites worldwide.

Users can download the most-recent Chromium build from this website.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is

See more by Gregg Keizer on

Read more about privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Gregg Keizer

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place