Google adds 'Do Not Track' to Chrome precursor

Privacy feature support shows up in Chromium, the project that feeds code into Chrome

Google has moved a step closer to making good on its promise to support "Do Not Track" in Chrome by the end of this year.

Chromium, Google's open-source project that feeds code into Chrome, released a build last week that includes the Do Not Track (DNT) privacy setting.

It's unclear how quickly the setting will be moved to the multi-channel build structure of Chrome itself. Google maintains three versions of Chrome: Dev, Beta and Stable, each succeeding version more polished than the last.

The Stable branch of Chrome is due for an upgrade: Google last updated the browser on July 30, when it shipped Chrome 21. The company usually upgrades Chrome every six to eight weeks, putting Chrome 22 on the horizon and Chrome 23, which is now in the Dev channel, up for delivery sometime in November.

In February, Google said it would add DNT support to Chrome after the White House said it would introduce new online privacy legislation in Congress.

Chrome joined other browsers, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Apple's Safari, that already transmitted special information with every HTTP page request to tell sites the user does not want to be tracked by online advertisers.

Then, Google promised to add DNT to Chrome by the end of the year, but declined to spell out a time or describe how the browser would present the option to users. Google was the last major browser maker to commit to DNT.

In Chromium "23.0.1266.0 build 156627" or later, the DNT setting appears under the "Privacy" section of the browser's Settings screen.

To pull up the Privacy section, users must first click the "Show advanced settings..." link at the bottom of the page. Checking the box marked "Send a 'Do Not Track' request with your browsing traffic" switches on the privacy feature.

Jonathan Mayer, a graduate student in computer science and law at Stanford University, and one of two researchers at Stanford who created the HTTP header concept to signal a user's DNT preference, bemoaned the placement of the setting in Chromium.

Chromium Do Not Track
Chromium puts the 'Do Not Track' setting under the Privacy section of its Settings screen. Expect Chrome to do the same.

"Good: looks like Do Not Track will be in the Chrome privacy preferences. Less good: have to click 'Show advanced settings...' to see them," Mayer wrote on Twitter last Thursday.

Chrome places the Privacy section of Settings in the same location, however.

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