Do Track: The FCC Won’t Force Sites to Honor “Do Not Track”

Don’t want tech giants like Google and Facebook to track you online? Looks like you’re out of luck. On Friday the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it will not force websites to honor “do not track.”

“Do not track” is a feature built into many web browsers, which users can use to indicate they do not want their online activity tracked. Consumer Watchdog put forth a petition in June to make honoring these requests mandatory.  “Do not track” was previously done on a voluntary basis – and that’s the way it’ll continue.

The FCC rejected this proposal stating it, “falls outside their jurisdiction.” The rejection means that ad companies, tech companies and others can continue to track user movements around the Internet.The FCC made the following statement at the time of dismissal:

“The Commission has been unequivocal in declaring that it has no intent to regulate edge providers,” reads the order. Edge providers are companies like Microsoft and Twitter that provide Internet-related services but not actual Internet connections. “We therefore find that the Consumer Watchdog Petition plainly does not warrant consideration by the Commission.”

The decision has been described by Business Insider as a “win” for Silicon Valley, but is an unfortunate conclusion for privacy advocates and anyone looking to control and protect their privacy online.

There are some ways you can continue to protect yourself online, despite the fact “do not track” will not be enforced. You can use a VPN to encrypt your Internet connection, which will protect your IP address, browsing history and any other communications online from any snooping websites or third parties.