Why your WordPress blog needs DoNotTrack

So what’s with all that nagging about tracking and that DoNotTrack plugin, you might wonder? Well, it’s pretty simple actually.

  1. Some very popular WordPress plugins include 3rd party tracking, sometimes even without properly disclosing, often without means to disable this behavior
  2. 3rd party tracking has privacy implications: all your visitors are tracked by the 3rd party, in general for behavioral marketing purposes (depending on what data is captured, tracking might even be illegal in some countries)
  3. 3rd party tracking has a performance impact: every visit to your blog will include between 2 and 5 extra requests for the 3rd party tracking to succeed, effectively delaying full page rendering

It is my conviction that blog owners should be able to install and use WordPress plugins without having to worry about undisclosed tracking and that plugins should provide a way to disable such 3rd party tracking if included.
As this is not the case yet, we have to resort to (messy) solutions to stop unwanted tracking from happening. And that’s exactly what DoNotTrack does. It’s a small javascript-hack in a WordPress-plugin to stop 3rd party tracking introduced by some of the most popular plugins.
Some details from the readme.txt:

  • What works:
  • What does not work (yet): Tracking code added using innerHTML or appendChild/insertBefore is not yet intercepted (but I’m working a solution for that)
  • What else might be added:
  • How you can help:
    • Provide me with links to plugins that include browser-based tracking + domain where the tracking is done.
    • Provide me with known opt-out code (javascript) to disable tracking services on a site.
    • Tell plugin writers you’re not happy with 3rd party tracking!
    • Tell your visitors about tracking & privacy, link to e.g. http://www.privacychoice.org/

And remember: if you host your WordPress blog yourself, you and nobody else should be able to decide who tracks your users!

18 thoughts on “Why your WordPress blog needs DoNotTrack”

  1. Hey Frank –
    you missed an ‘h’ in the link to the download it is saying “ttp://futtta.be/donottrack.zip”
    Just a note

  2. Superb ! What a big difference in improving speed after installing your plugin, since I use both jetpack and AddToAny Share and Subscribe
    Thanks !

  3. hi frank i asked jetpack support about to stop two unnecessary java script call. They gave me a solution like below which works pretty fine.
    function dequeue_devicepx() {
    wp_dequeue_script( ‘devicepx’ );
    add_action( ‘wp_enqueue_scripts’, ‘dequeue_devicepx’, 20 );
    i just want to know is it possible to stop quantserve javascript like above?

    • as far as I know, you can’t stop the quantcast-inclusion that way. wp donottrack works entirely different, stopping quantcast by detecting the inclusion and stopping/ interrupting the request.

  4. Whoa….was always wondering where the Quantcast tracker (+Other Trackers) came from in my website. Now, I understand. Installing your plugin right away! 😀
    Thanks Frank…You Rock! (:

  5. Hello Frank,
    I’m very interested in your DoNotTrack plugin for WordPress. The only thing is that I’m running WP version 5.0.3 and the plugin hasn’t been tested on this version of WP. Of course it is save to install, but is it save to activate the plugin? Will there be an updated version for WP 5.x ?
    Thanks in advance

  6. Not particularly happy with the calls to Gravatar, to be honest… 🙂
    There is no valid purpose for such calls on most business sites (other than marketing blogs or forums).
    There are also a number of plugins that have undisclosed chron jobs that send information about your site and stats to their owners (those often use the wp mail function)
    Some even require mandatory exit surveys in order to be able to deactivate the plugin.


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