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2011-10-26: waffles's answer to Do Not Track header:

We do not do anything special for the proposed spec. There is no requirement anywhere that we implement anything. A bill may be passed in congress one day, who knows.

2014-08-10: Jaydles's answer to Does Stack Exchange have an official policy on honoring "Do Not Track" browser settings?:

Obviously, if this (or one of the competing tracking standards) gains widespread buy-in, that will change things. And we'd be very likely to comply with it unless it utterly destroyed our business model (which is doubtful) because we're so dependent on our users trust and goodwill - they literally make the site.

There's still no bill in Congress, but there's a court ruling in Germany, which is almost as good.

2023-10-30: Gericht untersagt Datenschutzverstöße von LinkedIn

Das Landgericht Berlin schloss sich der Auffassung des vzbv an, dass die Mitteilung des Unternehmens irreführend war. Sie suggeriere, dass die Benutzung des DNT-Signals rechtlich irrelevant sei und die Beklagte ein solches Signal nicht zu beachten brauche. Das treffe nicht zu. Das Widerspruchsrecht gegen die Verarbeitung persönlicher Daten könne nach der Datenschutzgrundverordnung auch per automatisierten Verfahren ausgeübt werden. Ein DNT-Signal stelle einen wirksamen Widerspruch dar.

I would suggest that your DNT implementation act as an implied selection of the “Necessary cookies only” button, making that annoying box go away without me needing to run JavaScript, click the button, and hold onto cookies. You might have additional obligations under this ruling – my German is fairly poor, so I'm not 100% on whether this means you'd have to turn off Google Ads:

„Wenn Verbraucher:innen die ,Do-Not-Track‘-Funktion ihres Browsers aktivieren, ist das eine klare Botschaft: Sie wollen nicht, dass ihr Surfverhalten für Werbe- und andere Zwecke ausgespäht wird“, sagt Rosemarie Rodden, Rechtsreferenin beim vzbv. „Webseitenbetreiber müssen dieses Signal respektieren.“

but I'm totally using the opportunity to advocate for fixing the awful experience in default-configuration Mozilla Firefox Private Browsing with NoScript.

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  • 1
    The reason why SE, and other sites, haven't really supported it comes down to Microsoft enabling the flag by default in their IE browser back in 2011. Because sites could not be sure whether a user enabled the flag on their own, they ignored it. Oct 31, 2023 at 0:21
  • What is the experience now? Oct 31, 2023 at 0:25
  • 1
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Eh, ish. There was a pact, that was one of the conditions, Microsoft violated it either accidentally (due to stellar internal communication) or to scupper the deal. Regardless, times have changed: the law most places now encodes the more basic principles of consent, so that argument no longer applies (if it even did to start with).
    – wizzwizz4
    Oct 31, 2023 at 0:27
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum Still unchanged, last I checked (a few months ago). I can't quite match that configuration just now, but theoretically it should still happen.
    – wizzwizz4
    Oct 31, 2023 at 0:27
  • 4
    It should be noted that the ruling is only from a regional court and is far from a final decision on the matter. The reasoning provided is also severely flawed. The ruling is more akin to a rogue judge in the US issuing a ruling that stands little chance of being held in higher courts. It still leaves us in the exact same place: it's not standardized and even big players like Google don't pay attention to it. I'd love to have an actually respected Do-Not-Track style behavior but this ruling isn't the thing that's going to make it happen.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Oct 31, 2023 at 17:34
  • 2
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog “we will not honour the DNT setting unless browsers implement dark patterns that nudge the users away from enabling it” Oct 31, 2023 at 18:32
  • @animuson I was surprised by this ruling, too, but mostly because I didn't think anyone would bring this to court. That “it's not standardised” thing has never been a convincing argument (considering that it's literally standardised), and I don't see why the ruling wouldn't be held in higher courts: it's the obvious conclusion I came to when I was ≈14, and perfectly in line with the expectations of GDPR (see article 21.5, which makes this point rather explicitly, though I think it's implied by other parts of the regulation).
    – wizzwizz4
    Oct 31, 2023 at 18:56
  • This is partly just me trying to get attention on the usability issue that I personally encounter the most (which probably costs me 15 minutes a month, plus however much time I waste on extra scrolling when I forget that the popup can be dismissed). I do get that not everything can be a priority, and this is probably quite hard to implement because you're using a third-party “consent panel”, but equally, this is the direction that regulatory opinion is moving (regardless of this particular case), and it's best to get on top of these things early.
    – wizzwizz4
    Oct 31, 2023 at 19:02
  • 3
    @wizzwizz4 There are so many things to pick apart with the issues in that ruling and how GDPR could be combined with the DNT header in its current state. I would never be able to fit into comments and aren't really an answer to your question, which isn't explicitly about that ruling. I am also off this week so can't get drawn into a long discussion, but it was regardless worth pointing out that it's a bit premature to start taking actions based on it. Getting of top of it early can get you into just as much trouble as waiting when it comes to privacy compliance if you don't do it quite right.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Oct 31, 2023 at 20:12

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