A decade ago–long before the current controversies over what big companies are doing with our data–a lot of people were already irate about ad networks that followed their activity across sites in order ever more precisely to target marketing messages. A feature called Do Not Track arose as a simple, comprehensible way for browser users to take back their privacy. To opt out of being tracked, you’d check a box in your browser’s settings.
Notably, this didn’t opt out of advertising–just the technology used to target ads. With Do Not Track checked, no web server or embedded code would associate your behavior at a given site with actions elsewhere on the web. It was a great idea.
And now it’s dead.
The death of Do Not Track is the reason why I don’t give a damn about ad publishers and their moaning about adblockers and other efforts to thwart them. We tried being nice to you and you were jerks about it. No sympathy.