A decade ago, a simple browser setting promised to make it easy to protect your online privacy from nosy advertisers. Too bad it never came anywhere near to living up to its promise.
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.