Do not track, how to protect your browser privacy with a click

By changing a simple setting in your browser you can block tracking of our online activities. Here's how to do it

Online privacy is one of the most debated topics in recent years. On the one hand, users are demanding that their personal data not be tracked, on the other hand, websites and third-party companies are trying to track people's browsing in order to provide advertising agencies with the most accurate information possible.

Most likely very few people are aware of this, but when we surf online, we leave "pills" of information that are collected to create our online profile and calibrate advertisements according to our habits. For example, if we search online for a new computer or a hard disk for our laptop, after a few minutes we will be flooded with advertisements that advise us which object to buy. In jargon, this mechanism is called tracking advertising and for many companies it is a business that generates thousands and thousands of euros.

Companies use different methods to keep track of users' online habits. The simplest one is to take advantage of cookies, a kind of identifying token used by web servers to recognize the browser we are using while surfing the web. Cookies are certainly very useful because they simplify some operations while we browse the Web, but they also collect a lot of information about our habits, which are then used for tracking advertisements. If after reading this introduction you are worried about your online privacy, you don't have to be afraid. In fact, since 2010 on browsers it is possible to change a setting in order to block online browsing tracking. Il nome in codice dell’impostazione è "Do not track" e a seconda del browser che si utilizza è necessario seguire passaggi diversi per attivarla.

Cosa è Do not track

Do not track è una funzionalità disponibile su tutti i principali browser e permette di bloccare il tracciamento della nostra navigazione online. Ma che cosa è veramente Do not track? Si tratta di un header HTTP, cioè di una direttiva di controllo delle pagine web che comunica al web server le preferenze degli utenti sulla raccolta dei dati della loro abitudini online. Lo scopo di Do not track è quello di sospendere la raccolta delle informazioni da parte delle aziende sulle abitudini online degli utenti. L’header accetta solamente due tipi di valore:

  • Valore 1: l’utente non vuole essere tracciato
  • Valore 0: l’utente vuole essere tracciato o non ha impostato la funzionalità.

Do not track non si attiva a meno che non sia l’utente a deciderlo. So, if you want to block the activity of online trackers, you'll need to go into your browser settings and activate the feature.

Before explaining how to activate Do not track on all major browsers, a small clarification is necessary: the feature cannot block all the systems used by companies to track users' online habits, so it is likely that some information will still reach the advertising companies. The feature is not supported by all servers and above all there are no legal rules that require advertisers to respect the choice expressed by users

How to activate Do not track on Chrome

To activate Do not track on Chrome you should click on the icon with three vertical dots in the top right corner and then click on Settings. A new page will open and you'll have to click on Show advanced settings. In the section dedicated to privacy you will have to tick the option "Send a request Do not track with your browsing traffic".

How to activate Do not track on Firefox

Mozilla Firefox has provided users with the anti-tracking option for several years now. To activate it, you need to click on the icon with three horizontal lines in the upper right corner and then click on Options. At this point you have to choose the Privacy section and click on "manage Do Not Track settings". A warning will appear on the screen and you will have to activate the function by ticking the option "Always use Do Not Track".

How to activate Do not track on Internet Explorer

The first step is to click on the gear icon in the top right corner and then click on Internet Options. A window will open and you'll have to click on Advanced. At this point you should scroll down until you come across "Send DNT (Do Not Track) requests to sites visited with Internet Explorer".

How to enable Do not track on Safari

From Safari's menu you should click on Preferences and then click on Privacy. In the window that opens you should check "Ask websites not to track me"

The negative effects of Do not track

You should also point out some negative aspects of Do not track activation. For example, it will block the operation of cookies, with all that this implies. We will no longer have news and weather based on our location and when we enter a web page it will always be like the first time. If we can do without that, then we can enable Do not track without too much trouble.