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World Wide Web

Google Adds 'Do Not Track' Capabilities to Chrome

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November 7, 2012 2:13PM

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"Do not track," while sought by privacy advocates, is not popular with advertisers. In October, More than three-dozen Association of National Advertiser board members, including IBM, Intel, GM and Proctor & Gamble, signed an open letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer voicing concerns about plans to ship Internet Explorer 10 with DNT turned on.

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Google has finally followed through on "do not track," or DNT, promises for its Chrome browser. The browser-maker just added built-in DNT capabilities to its latest developer's build.

As the name suggests, DNT capabilities mean Web browser users can decide whether or not they want to allow Web sites to track personal information. It blocks advertisers and Web sites from collecting personal information that is typically used to target ads or otherwise learn more about their surfing habits. That's the theory.

Ami Fischman, a software engineer at Google, said that build offers an option to send a "do not track" request to Web sites and Web services. "The effectiveness of such requests is dependent on how Web sites and services respond," he wrote in a blog post, "so Google is working with others on a common way to respond to these requests in the future."

Advertisers Hate It

Google is well behind the DNT curve. Microsoft announced it would implement DNT in Internet Explorer 10. IE 9 already has DNT preferences, as does Firefox 4 and Safari 5.1. Noteworthy is the fact that Web sites are not obligated to obey the signals that DNT preferences send.

DNT is not popular with advertisers. In October, More than three-dozen Association of National Advertiser board members, including folks from IBM, Intel, GM and Proctor & Gamble, signed an open letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer voicing their concerns about Microsoft's plans to ship Internet Explorer 10 with the DNT feature turned on by default.

The letter emphatically stated that Redmond's decision would "undercut the effectiveness of our members' advertising and, as a result, drastically damage the online experience by reducing the Internet content and offerings that such advertising supports. This result will harm consumers, hurt competition, and undermine American innovation and leadership in the Internet economy."

Longer Battery Life?

With the new Chrome stable release, Google is also making other changes. Fischman said Google recent enabled GPU-accelerated decoding for Chrome on Windows.

"Dedicated graphics chips draw far less power than a computer's CPU, so using GPU-accelerated video decoding while watching videos can increase battery life significantly," he said.

In Google's internal tests, the battery lasted 25 percent longer when GPU-accelerated video decoding was enabled. In theory, that means Chrome users on Windows will experience longer battery life.

"You'll also find it much easier to view and control any Web site's permissions for capabilities such as geolocation, pop-ups, and camera/microphone access," Fischman said. "This saves you from having to dig through settings pages to find these permissions. Now, simply click on the page/lock icon next to a Web site's address in the omnibox to see a list of permissions and tweak them as you wish."

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