Lagging behind competitors by as much as 17 months, Google has finally added the industry standard known as Do Not Track to a stable release of its Chrome browser.

The functionality, which was added to Chrome 23 released on Tuesday, gives users a way to communicate their desire not to be tracked as they navigate from website to website. When turned on, Do Not Track works in the background by adding an HTTP header that’s constantly broadcast to all connecting webservers. Mozilla’s Firefox browser implemented the feature in June 2011, five months before it was formalized as an official W3C specification. Almost all other browsers have adopted it since then, leaving Google—a company that makes most of its revenue from advertising—the lone holdout.

Do Not Track hasn’t been without its controversies. Some privacy advocates have complained that the measure, which requires the voluntary cooperation of websites, doesn’t go far enough. On the other side of the debate, some critics don’t like the way it’s being implemented in some browsers. The Apache webserver was recently updated to ignore Do Not Track settings in Internet Explorer 10 and Yahoo recently said it will also ignore IE10 Do Not Track settings. The moves by both organizations are in response to Microsoft’s decision to turn on the feature by default. They say it should be off by default and left up to individual users to turn it on.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab