"Following months of relative quiet on the subject of Do Not Track — an HTTP header that tells advertisers and other third parties not to follow you around the internet — the controversial browser signal is being thrust back into the limelight. After the W3C's recent face-to-face meeting in Amsterdam, the the Digital Advertising Alliance plainly said that it "does not require companies to honor DNT," effectively saying it intends to stick to its own self-regulatory approach to user privacy. Much of the renewed interest stems from Microsoft's controversial decision to turn Do Not Track on by default in Windows 8's Internet Explorer 10, and Adobe engineer Roy Fielding's subsequent decision to take a sledgehammer to the Apache web server, patching it in a way that explicitly overwrites the DNT signal coming from Microsoft's newest browser.
With the fate of our beloved internet economy allegedly at stake, perhaps it's a good time to examine what Do Not Track is. How did the standard come to be, what does it do, and how does it stand to change online advertising? Is it as innocuous as privacy advocates make it sound, or does it stand to jeopardize the free, ad-supported internet we've all come to rely on?"