[PET] Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising

yannye at gmail.com yannye at gmail.com
Tue Nov 8 20:06:00 GMT 2011

Hi Matthijs,

Do you think OBA is a hindrance to technology or is it becomes a norm nowadays. If not, how website will make profits. IMHO, to should be better way of handling this from the user perspectives.


PhD researcher,

On 7 Nov 2011, at 12:34, "Matthijs R. Koot" <koot at uva.nl> wrote:

> CyLab's report "Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of
> Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising" (October 2011) claims
> usability (privacy-)flaws these systems:
> - DAA Consumer Choice
> - Evidon Global Opt-Out
> - PrivacyMark
> - Firefox 5 (privacy settings)
> - IE 9 (privacy settings)
> - IE 9 (Tracking Protection)
> - Ghostery 2.5.3
> - TACO 4.0
> - Adblock Plus 1.3.9
> The report is a great read and IMHO exemplary for what might be
> published in a Journal Negative Results in Security and Privacy
> (discussed earlier on this list). Its abstract:
> "We present results of a 45-participant laboratory study investigating
> the usability of tools to limit online behavioral advertising (OBA).We
> tested nine tools, including tools that block access to advertising
> websites, tools that set cookies indicating a user’s preference to opt
> out of OBA, and privacy tools that are built directly into web browsers.
> We interviewed participants about OBA, observed their behavior as they
> installed and used a privacy tool, and recorded their perceptions and
> attitudes about that tool. We found serious usability flaws in all nine
> tools we examined. The online opt-out tools were challenging for users
> to understand and configure. Users tend to be unfamiliar with most
> advertising companies, and therefore are unable to make meaningful
> choices. Users liked the fact that the browsers we tested had built-in
> Do Not Track features, but were wary of whether advertising companies
> would respect this preference. Users struggled to install and configure
> blocking lists to make effective use of blocking tools. They often
> erroneously concluded the tool they were using was blocking OBA when
> they had not properly configured it to do so."
> Lisa Vaas blogged about it on Sophos' Naked Security [2], unfortunately
> choosing the poor title "Research Finds that Privacy Tools Don’t Work".
> Matthijs
> [1] http://www.cylab.cmu.edu/research/techreports/2011/tr_cylab11017.html
> [2]
> http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/11/07/research-finds-that-privacy-tools-don%E2%80%99t-work/
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