Global Privacy Control

29th Jan, 2021

Yesterday saw the announcement of a new standard that makes it easier to users to out opt of data collection and sharing. It’s called the Global Privacy Control and lets users signal they want to opt-out of tracking through their browser.

From The Verge:

The GPC standard sprang from a powerful but little-noticed provision in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which ... gives Californians the right to opt out of having their personal information sold by the sites they visit.

Interestingly, the definition of ‘sold’ seems to be deliberately vague – in a good way:

Crucially, the law interprets “sell” as including any exchange of value, which could include being read broadly enough to go beyond outright data broker sales and into the endemic tracking pixels that power much of the advertising you see online.

Installing the signal

Part of the appeal of the Global Privacy Control is that users can set this signal from their browser. There are several ways to broadcast the signal, but most users will only need to install a browser extension.

There’s support for Firefox, Chrome, Brave and Microsoft Edge browsers at the moment – Safari is a notable omission.

Extension links

Here are the direct links to the extensions:

To enable this on mobile, users will need to use the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser on Android or iOS.

Once installed, users can visit and test their browser signal is working. If it is, a message will appear in a bar at the top of the page.

Search engine switch

When I installed the Firefox extension, DuckDuckGo silently set itself as the default search engine. I understand this is a good move for users stuck on Google by default, but I wasn’t brilliantly impressed that this happened without asking.

Spread the word

According to The Verge article, “project organizers estimate that 40 million users worldwide will be sending out the GPC signal through one product or another”.

Right now, the project and download information is spread across a few sites and articles. I’ve written this brief rundown to pull together the key points and make it easier to download the extensions. 

The power of a standard like this is in its take up. You can help the project by spreading the word.