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You decide how private you are

Marketplace Staff Nov 15, 2011

Let’s say you’re casually surfing the web, no big deal, just looking up honey badger pictures. Depending on the page you land on and the browser you’re using, you might be giving up a few, small personal details to the site. New privacy controls to be put in place next year by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) aim to change this problem. Each browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.) has a different way of telling a website not to track you. You’ll usually find controls for these settings in a tab labeled something like “privacy” or “under the hood” in your browser options. Think of it like putting your name in the white pages of the phone book (remember those?). You had the choice of giving your name or partial name, address, or not even being listed at all… it was up to you.

The W3C wants to make a uniform way of controlling these settings, so no matter what browser you’re on, a website will recognize your privacy intent. According to the BBC, the new guidelines have three main intentions:

1. Let browser settings tell websites to do less tracking.

2. Let websites acknowledge privacy requests.

3. Define best practices for sites so they can comply with different privacy needs.

Keep in mind there’s no enforcing these rules, but websites will more often than not abide by them.

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