The Return of Do Not Track: LinkedIn does not have to track users

Do Not Track (DNT) is a feature built into some web browsers that gives users the ability to express their preference for having their data collected while they browse online. When a user activates the option, the browser sends a special information or header with the request Do Not Track to all websites you visit.

In 2019 we said why the Do Not Track feature is dead and explained why it can’t either protect privacy of users nor provide additional protection while browsing online.

The Do Not Track option now seemed dead and buried

By activating the option Do Not Track through the browser interface, the user indicates that he does not want it be tracked while browsing the web. In Google Chrome the setting is found within the settings by typing chrome://settings/cookies in the address bar and referring to the preference Send a “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic.

The main problem related to Do Not Track, as we also highlighted at the time, is that websites – at least until today – were not obliged to respect the indication provided by the user’s browser. The choice to respect or ignore the preference it was left to the discretion of the managers of each site. In practice, therefore, if a user activates the option Do Not Tracksome sites (few) may take it into consideration while the vast majority will ignore the client-side setting.

Some sites may even interpret the feature to be enabled Do Not Track as a hallmark of a user who wants protect your privacy. Paradoxically, the activation of Do Not Tracktherefore, combined with other parameters could even lead to identify uniquely the user (concept of fingerprinting).

German judges order LinkedIn to respect DNT preference

To most people and in particular to experts in privacy onlinethe function Do Not Track seems anachronistic for years. Among other things, the European provisions on cookie e di informed consentoblige website managers to request authorization from users who visit their pages to activate tracking and profiling features.

Yet the court in Berlin (Germany) decided to revive it Do Not Track establishing that it is not possible to ignore i signals sent by users via the web browsers installed on the respective client devices. LinkedInsued by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, claimed that it could collect data for analysis and marketing purposes even if the option was available Do Not Track active.

German judges concluded that LinkedIn is legally required to comply with requests Do Not Track. It’s about a judgment which goes down in history because it is the first time that a private entity is called upon to respect an indication such as Do Not Trackuntil now considered a simple manifestation of the thoughts of individual users and not a stringent obligation.

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