Many people, upon learning that millions of sites they have never heard of are constantly tracking their every online move, are justifiably creeped out. Online tracking has been a hotly debated issue, especially with the advent and collapse of the “Do Not Track” movement. Therefore, it is worthwhile to analyze the specific problems and potential solutions associated to this issue.
It is now very clear that given these problems, which have indeed manifested themselves, users’ fear of online tracking is indeed a rational one. We must therefore consider the tools in our arsenal, given succinctly by Lessig’s four forces: those of government, the market, norms, and technology. It was explained above why the market will fail: those playing loose with peoples’ information have no incentive whatsoever to respect privacy rights. Additionally, the “Do-Not-Track” movement, which attempted to implement a technical tool which really didn’t do anything (and was thoroughly rejected by the tracking industry), is an empirical example of the failure of norms: telling tracking sites you do not want to be tracked will not accomplish anything. Therefore, it is my position that the two remaining forces, government and technology, should work in concert to provide a solution: technology to architect more sophisticated user controls, and government to provide the nudge for the Internet industry as a whole to do so. There will need to be a substantive legislative debate about what these controls might look like. Until then, users have two choices: accept the insecurity of their information, or completely opt out of Cyberspace.