The idea behind the Do Not Track request is simple: send a message to the websites you're visiting that you don't want to be tracked, and they will comply. In theory, this is much more effective than content blockers (such as Ghostery), because it is preventative as opposed to reactionary. You're not fending off the trackers as they come in, you're preventing them from coming in the first place. Plus, it means that you're still using the site as it was intended by the creators (something that content blockers cannot provide). This utopian standard has been slow to catch on, however, and likely never will achieve mainstream adoption (for reasons I describe in a previous post).

There's also a huge unexpected consequence of the DNT request: it leads users to believe they are free from tracking, while it's more than likely that nothing has changed. Because so few sites actually comply with the DNT request, it has barely any effect at all. If anything, it gives trackers another data point for user differentiation (because the DNT request is uncommon, it can be used as a way to further single out users).

That's the side effect of that little button sitting deep within browser settings. DNT is presented as a perfect system: click the box, and you're safe. To a non-technical person, Chrome's send a Do Not Track request with your browsing traffic may read as "prevent online surveillance," and the DNT request does far from that.


Regardless, DNT is enabled in my browser and will remain that way for some time. I know that it won't do anything, but at least I can say that I tried.