Apple Adds ‘Do Not Track’: Which Browser is Now the Lone Holdout?

Apple’s reported addition of a do-not-track privacy tool to its latest Web browser means there is just one Internet Web browser left standing without such a tool. Who is the holdout, and what are they waiting for?

Apple’s reported addition of a do-not-track privacy tool to its latest Web browser means there is just one Internet Web browser left standing without such a tool.  Who is the holdout, and what are they waiting for?

That would be Google, now the only major Web browser provider to not yet commit to supporting a do-no-track capability in its browser to protect users from having their Web movements tracked.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple plans to add a “do not track” privacy tool to its Safari browser when it releases its latest Mac OS X 10.7, or Lion, operating system.

That puts Apple’s Safari in the ranks of Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in allowing users to deny advertising networks the right to monitor their online browsing habits in order to send targeted ads.

The tracking of users’ behavior on the Web has become a hot topic among policymakers, Internet search engines and consumers alike.

The outcry from a series of Journal articles exposing exactly how advertisers follow users and build targeted ad profiles prompted Mozilla to add a ‘Do Not Track’ feature to Firefox 4, and Microsoft to later add ‘Tracking Protection’ to its Internet Explorer 9.

What is the holdup with Google?

A spokesman for Google told the Journal only that the company “will continue to be involved closely” in industry discussions about do-not-track.

Google’s Chrome browser now offers just a downloadable “Keep My Opt-Outs” extension that lets users permanently opt out of tracking cookies and request that their data not be used for targeted advertising.

The ‘do not track’ feature has not been officially announced by Apple, but the Journal reports, “The tool is included within the latest test release of Lion, a version of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system that is currently available only to developers. The final version of the operating system is scheduled to be released to the public this summer. Mentions of the do-not-track feature in Apple’s Safari browser began to appear recently in online discussion forums and on Twitter.”

Consumer rights groups, the Obama administration and the Federal Trade Commission have all called for a ‘Do Not Track’ tool similar to the “Do Not Call” list that currently exists for telemarketers.

Add to that heat for Google the fact that no fewer than seven pieces of legislation are circulating now on Capitol Hill related to ‘Do Not Track’ and online privacy.

Just this week, measures introduced in the Senate, by John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz), and the House, by Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), would, while not specifically mandating a ‘do not track’ tool in all browsers, require companies to let users opt out of sharing personal information.

Tell us what you think.  Will you use another browser over Google Chrome because it lacks a complete ‘do not track’ feature?  What do you think it will take for Google to add one?