Privacy advocates have dreamed for at least 10 years of an universal “Do Not Track” setting. That dream is now a reality, at least for the US’s most populous state. Why is Apple not Apple? A company that uses privacy more to help its customers get the most of it.
The California Consumer Privacy Act was passed in 2018 by California with an asterisk. The law allows California residents to request that websites do not sell their personal information. In reality, this means going through a seemingly endless number of privacy policies and cookies on each site that you visit. A masochist, or someone who is passionate about privacy would click through the cookies settings each time they look up a menu item or buy a vacuum. Privacy is a fundamental right for the majority of people. Until there’s an easy way to stop tracking on all internet sites, it will be a paper-based right.
This ideal is getting closer to becoming a reality. Although the CCPA does not explicitly provide for a global opt out, regulations interpreting California’s law in 2020 stated that companies would need to honour individual requests. Although the technology to implement a universal opt out was not yet available, a group of nonprofits and companies presented a technical specification that could be used for a global privacy control. It can transmit a CCPA-enforceable, “Do Not Track” signal on either the device or browser level.
If you are a California resident, today you can turn on global privacy control by downloading an extension like DuckGo, or using Brave’s privacy browser. (Seriously, go do it. has the complete list. After you click the button, all websites you visited will automatically inform you that you don’t want to sell your personal data. And unlike previous attempts to establish a universal opt out, every reasonable-sized business doing business in California will have to conform to law. All they need to do is add a few lines to their site.
Because of some business objections to the broad interpretation by the attorney general, the state of CCPA enforcement is still murky. California’s government is now clear about its intention to implement the worldwide privacy control requirements. This requirement is made more clear by the California Privacy Rights Act. It will take effect in full in 2023.
Digiday stated in mid-July that Rob Bonta, attorney general of the United States, had sent “at least 10” and perhaps more than 20 letters to companies asking them to respect the GPC. And an item was found on a list CCPA enforcement action on the website of the attorney general noting that a company had to begin honoring the signal.
The bad news is here. It’s much easier to download a privacy browser or extension than to go through millions of privacy pages. However, most people will not do this. It remains to be determined if DuckDuckGo lining America’s roads and filling cities with billboards, will spark a new generation of privacy lovers.
This is important because online privacy rights do not apply to individuals. Pervasive tracking can not only allow anyone to view your location and ruin your life. was recently done by a Catholic priest who commercially accessible Grindr data showed a pattern in frequenting gay bars. You still live in an environment shaped by surveillance, even if you opt out. By reducing the advertising budget to reach their audience, tracking-based advertising is contributing to the fall in quality publications. It is cheaper to reach these readers via social media, or on extremist news sites. This boosts the motivation to maximize social media engagement. All of this will continue until there is a significant number of individuals who opt out from being tracked.