DuckDuckGo proposes new Do Not Track legislation to boost online privacy

DuckDuckGo has announced new draft legislation dubbed the ‘Do-Not-Track Act of 2019’. It’s not expected that this draft, which would force websites to respect Do Not Track, will become a law anytime soon but it's intended to act as a starting point for legislators in the United States and abroad that want to pass similar, privacy-respecting laws.

The move comes following a study conducted by DuckDuckGo earlier this year. It found that a quarter of people have switched on Do Not Track, roughly 75 million Americans and 115 million EU citizens. The study found that a majority were unaware that many sites, including the most popular ones, actually do not respect the user’s preference for enhanced privacy.

In the draft legislation, DuckDuckGo proposes that if a user has enabled the Do Not Track setting then no third-parties should be tracking your movements around the web without your permission. It also means that no first-party should track users outside of what a user expects, an example which DuckDuckGo proposes is if you go on WhatsApp then Facebook, the firm that owns WhatsApp, shouldn’t use the WhatsApp data to advertise to you on Instagram or Facebook.

By default, Do Not Track is designed to be an opt-in mechanism so that those who care about privacy can get additional protections when they browse the web. It’s important to remember that Do Not Track first emerged at the start of the decade, in the time since, the European Union has introduced its GDPR legislation and other jurisdictions are looking at implementing similar laws; to a degree there is some overlap between GDPR and Do Not Track. Additionally, browser plug-ins such as the EFF’s Privacy Badger do a great job of stopping online trackers following users around the web.

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