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“Do Not Track”: Respecting your visitors’ privacy

Security and privacy
Published on June 27th, 2019
“Do Not Track”: Respecting your visitors’ privacy

Since GDPR has come into the picture back in 2016, people have become increasingly more aware and protective about how their browsing history and personal data are being tracked and used online. The use of VPNs around the world has been trending upwards for the past few years, and it is expected to keep following this same upwards trajectory in the years to come. Bottom line is: people care about their privacy online. 

So, why not show them you care about it, too? Taking their privacy preferences into account can be a great way to show that you care about them, and the first step towards doing that is incredibly simple: it’s respecting the Do Not Track preference.

DNT, or Do Not Track, is a privacy setting that every major browser lets their users turn on in their preferences. In Google Chrome, for example, it is displayed as Send a “Do Not Track” request with your browsing traffic”. When you first learn about this setting, you might think it disables tracking services on the websites you visit, just like an ad blocker does for advertisements. However, it does not do that. In fact, it does exactly what it says: it sends a request to the websites you visit, asking them not to track you; no more, no less. 

What this means is that it is up to every individual website (and therefore, to the developers behind every website) to handle this request however they like, which most often means that it is simply disregarded. 

However, if you do care about your visitors’ privacy preferences, taking this setting into account and disabling your tracking services when it is on usually takes less than five minutes for anyone with basic web development knowledge. When a visitor has the DNT setting turned on, every request they make to your website’s server will include this information. Here are some examples of how to detect the DNT setting in Javascript and in PHP:

Detecting the DNT preference in PHP $trackingIsAllowed = !(isset($_SERVER['HTTP_DNT']) && $_SERVER['HTTP_DNT'] == 1); if ($trackingIsAllowed) { // Include tracking services such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, etc... }

Detecting the DNT preference in Javascript var trackingIsAllowed = !(navigator.doNotTrack == "1" || window.doNotTrack == "1"); if (trackingIsAllowed) { // Initiate tracking services such as Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, etc... }

Of course, that means you will not see those visits anymore in your analytics. However, that is what people who are turning on this setting are asking for, so it's up to you to make the decision.

Need another incentive to make the move? Here's a second one: when you use Koalati, our service loads every one of your pages in different resolutions. If you are using Google Analytics on your website, it is likely that it will register those automated views as new visitors that only stay on your website for a few seconds, which can mess up your statistics. However, Koalati sends all of its request with the DNT header, so by respecting your visitors privacy, you will also avoid this issue. Hopefully that is a good enough reason to convince you to make the move!

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash