Apple Removes Useless 'Do Not Track' Feature From Latest Beta Versions of Safari

In the release notes for Safari 12.1, the new version of Apple's browser installed in iOS 12.2, Apple says that it is removing support for the "Do Not Track" feature, which is now outdated.

From the release notes: "Removed support for the expired Do Not Track standard to prevent potential use as a fingerprinting variable."

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Do Not Track is no longer an option in iOS 12.2, as seen in iOS 12.2 screenshot on left. iOS 12.1.3 screenshot on right.

The same feature was also removed from Safari Technology Preview today, Apple's experimental macOS browser, and it is not present in the macOS 10.14.4 betas. According to Apple, Do Not Track is "expired" and support is being eliminated to prevent its use as, ironically, a fingerprinting variable for tracking purposes.

"Do Not Track" is an outdated feature that was added to Safari quite a long time ago, first showing up in OS X Lion in 2011. Proposed by the FTC, "Do Not Track" is a preference that is sent by a user's browser to various websites requesting that advertising companies not use tracking methods.

It is entirely up to the advertising companies to comply with the "Do Not Track" messaging, and it has no actual function beyond broadcasting a user preference. All it does is say something to the effect of "hey, I prefer not to be tracked for targeted advertisements," which websites, advertisers, and analytics companies are free to ignore.

In the settings for Safari in iOS 12.2, Apple is no longer listing "Do Not Track" as a setting that can be toggled off or on, and in the Safari Preview browser, "Ask websites not to track me" is no longer listed as an option.

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To replace Do Not Track, Apple has been implementing much more stringent Intelligent Tracking Prevention options, which do actually have a tangible effect and prevent the tracking methods that many advertisers and analytics sites use to detect your cross-site internet browsing.

Tag: Safari
Related Forums: macOS Mojave, iOS 12

Top Rated Comments

snek Avatar
52 months ago
Instead we got a million GDPR and cookie popups
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
52 months ago
Pfft, I never used that crap anyways. Just exercise a little caution, and advertisers won't have a clue who you are.



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Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
az431 Avatar
52 months ago
Same people that complain about the headphone jack, ethernet port, and the cd-rom drive being deprecated will also complain about this, and then comment how innovative it is to remove the do not track functionality and that "Timmy is greedy."

What else is new.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thecastle Avatar
52 months ago
Wow, so the do not track feature was used by ad companies to fingerprint you? These companies know no bounds
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaelan the Tired Avatar
52 months ago
I actually thought Do Not Track was a good idea at the time. Sure, advertisers didn't have to honor it, but they had incentive to. Few people turned it on, so advertisers wouldn't have a significant revenue loss in honoring it and it would boost their reputations. It could have even been a precursor to something with a bit more teeth, where governments could write laws criminalizing tracking such people. It would hardly have cured us of the growing threat to user privacy, but it would have at least done something about it. It was a rare moment where it looked like scummy advertisers and privacy advocates could actually come to some sort of positive agreement, however small.

The problem with it was that it all hinged on the option being disabled by default, so that only the rare unicorns who actually knew about it and wanted it would turn it on. Microsoft made the infuriating decision to blatantly violate this delicate contract by making Do Not Track enabled by default in Internet Explorer. So all that could happen from there was for the whole thing to come tumbling down. I vaguely remember some website trying to create a compromise where they would still honor the header if it came from a non-Microsoft browser, but I guess that kind of duct tape over the mess wasn't sustainable. Advertisers were spooked and it all ended sadly-ever-after.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calzon65 Avatar
52 months ago
Same people that complain about the headphone jack, ethernet port, and the cd-rom drive being deprecated will also complain about this, and then comment how innovative it is to remove the do not track functionality and that "Timmy is greedy."

What else is new.
Yea … I complain about the lack of the headphone jack :mad:
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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