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How Can Online Advertising Companies Be Kept from Tracking Web Surfers?

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The Federal Trade Commission's call for a "do not track" mechanism to be created to protect Web users' private information from being exploited by online advertising networks sounds good on paper, but implementing such a technology would be a thorny process. It is not because the technology is so difficult to create, but rather because most of the companies that make Web browsers are supported by or are themselves online advertising networks.

Google, Microsoft and Apple, for example, all have online advertising networks, whereas Mozilla and others get money from Google for search deals, Chris Soghoian, a privacy and security researcher in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington, said last Wednesday at the "Future of Online Consumer Protections" conference hosted by the Consumer Watchdog advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

Google, which makes the Chrome Web browser but also bought Internet advertising technology company DoubleClick in March 2008 for $3.1 billion, derives 90 percent of its revenue from advertising, Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit formerly known as the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said during his opening remarks.

From Scientific American
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