ObamaCare website will honor Do Not Track requests

HealthCare.gov is going to honor Do Not Track requests this enrollment season.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the ObamaCare website, said that it would not track users who toggle a setting in their browser that sends the requests to the website.

Websites are not currently required to honor Do Not Track requests, although every major browser gives users the option of turning on the setting.

“Over the last several months, we’ve been working hard to make the consumer experience even better this year — learning about what information you need to make decisions and how to improve the help and support we provide throughout the enrollment process,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplaces, in a blog post. “An important part of that is continuing to protect your privacy when you’re shopping for health coverage.

The website, which had a disastrous launch that threatened to imperil President Obama’s healthcare plan, will not place advertising-related trackers on the computers of users who have selected the option. It will also not load third-party tools for those users so that they do not have to worry about those outside pieces of software tracking them.

It’s part of a larger effort by the healthcare marketplace to focus on user privacy, according to Counihan. A new page will let users opt out of different third-party advertising tools.

“If you choose to opt out, you’ll still have access to everything on the site, but we won’t use information from your visit to analyze the site’s technical performance or use digital advertising to remind you about helpful information like deadlines,” Counihan said.

Privacy advocates have pushed for some time to make Do Not Track requests more efficient. Earlier this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that it had developed a system where websites with privacy policies that honor the requests would be able to display ads to users who did not want to be tracked.

In theory, the group said, this would give websites an incentive to honor the requests: if they did, and didn’t collect data on users, they could make money by serving them ads that would otherwise be blocked.

The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog has also asked the Federal Communications Commission to force providers of Web services to comply with the requests.