Search engine and consumer privacy advocate DuckDuckGo has announced the “Do-Not-Track Act of 2019,” a piece of draft legislation that would legally require sites to honor users’ tracking preferences.

Why we should care. As it stands, “Do-Not-Track” (DNT) is a voluntary signal sent by browsers, which means sites have the option of respecting or ignoring it.

If the act picks up steam and passes into law, sites would be required to cease certain user tracking methods, which means less data available to inform marketing and advertising campaigns.


Nearly a quarter of respondents have activated their desktop browser’s DNT setting and an even larger proportion aren’t sure if it’s enabled or not, according to a DuckDuckGo survey.

The impact could also cascade into platforms that leverage consumer data, possibly making them less effective. For example, one of the advantages of advertising on a platform like Google or Facebook is the ability to target audiences. If a user enables DNT, the ads displayed to them when on browsing those websites won’t be informed by their external browsing history.

First-party tracking will also have to be in line with user expectations. DuckDuckGo’s example is that if you use Whatsapp, a Facebook subsidiary, then Facebook couldn’t use your Whatsapp data for unrelated purposes, such as showing you ads on Instagram (which Facebook also owns). This may make it more difficult to coordinate campaigns across platforms that currently cross-pollinate their user data.

This proposal is quite far from being signed into law, but the technology is already built into Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge and Internet Explorer. With the adoption of GDPR just a year behind us and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposed legislation to regulate “big tech companies” drawing more attention to digital privacy issues in Washington, the Do-Not-Track Act could be a realistic outcome.

What it covers. The Do-Not-Track Act of 2019 addresses important considerations such as:

  • Response to DNT signals, including consent, permitted uses and anonymizing data.
  • Contractual obligations and liabilities, including third-party tracking.
  • Transparency on how data will be used.
  • Enforcement, including fines for violations.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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