You know how there’s a “Do not call” list? If you register your phone number with this list, telemarketers are legally forbidden to call you.
Now there’s a “Do not track” list, too. If you turn this feature on in your browser—like Internet Explorer 11—then Web advertisers are supposed to not track your Web activities in order to market to you better.
There’s a difference, though. Advertisers’ respect for your Do Not Track setting is entirely optional. There’s no law that says they have to obey it.
Originally, the advertisers (in the form of the Digital Advertising Alliance trade group) promised the U.S. government that they’d all respect the Do Not Track setting—as long as this feature came turned off on all new computers.
But Do Not Track comes turned on in Internet Explorer 11, to the great unhappiness of the advertising industry. In retaliation, the ad industry has vowed to ignore the Do Not Track feature altogether. As a result, it’s essentially a useless feature.
If you care, you can find the Do Not Track setting like this: Press the Alt key to make the Tools menu appear. Choose Tools→Internet Options. In the resulting dialog box, click the Advanced tab. Scroll down to the Security heading and turn on “Always send Do Not Track header.” Restart the computer.