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Safari Loses 'Do Not Track' as Apple Focuses on Intelligent Tracking Prevention

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Safari Loses 'Do Not Track' as Apple Focuses on Intelligent Tracking Prevention

Do Not Track is already missing from latest betas of iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4

Highlights
  • Do Not Track was first introduced back in 2011
  • It is a voluntary signal to websites/ advertisers to stop tracking users
  • The official DNT project had ended last year

Apple has revealed that it will be ditching “Do Not Track” in the upcoming version of its browser, Safari 12.1. The company will instead focus on Intelligent Tracking Prevention with the inclusion of new permission requirements. Originally introduced in 2017, Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a part of Apple's efforts to block third-party trackers from capturing cross-site browsing data for ad targeting purposes. Do Not Track (DNT) has been seen as a big failure with most of the websites not following the signal sent by Web browsers.

Do Not Track is supported by pretty much all major Web browsers as a voluntary signal that is sent to websites to disable their tracking or cross-user tracking. The signal was first proposed back in 2009 by the researchers, but it only started making its way to Web browsers in 2011 with Firefox becoming the first Web browser to include the feature. Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, and Chrome later added the support. Given the voluntary nature of the signal, the websites aren't actually forced to follow it and they hardly do. Even if you have enabled Do No Track in every browser that you use, chances are you are still getting tracked by a large portion of websites. The efforts to standardise Do Not Track by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) too ended last year in September.

Apple is becoming the first major browser developer to remove the support for Do No Track. The feature is already missing from the latest beta version of the iOS 12.2 and macOS 10.14.4.

“Removed support for the expired Do Not Track standard to prevent potential use as a fingerprinting variable,” Apple writes in the release notes for Safari 12.1.

As part of its Intelligent Tracking Prevention implementation in Safari, which is not voluntary, Apple has removed support for partitioned cookies for domains with cross-site tracking capabilities and the Storage Access API now provides third-party access to cookies. It will also limit long-term tracking.

Apple's decision to ditch Do Not Track was first spotted by DuckDuckGo, which has released a survey on Do Not Track that revealed that 41.4 percent of the respondents in the US did not know that DNT is a voluntary signal.

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