The Global Privacy Control (GPC) explained in 500 words
The Global Privacy Control (GPC) is a new initiative by researchers, several newspaper organizations from the United States, some browser makers, the EFF, some search engines, and some other organizations to improve user privacy and rights on the Internet.
Summed up in a single sentence, GPC lets sites a user connects to know that the user denies the site the right to sell or share personal information to third-parties.
While that sounds an awful lot like a Do Not Track header 2.0, it is designed to work with existing legal frameworks (and upcoming ones) such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Tip: you can connect to the main GPC website to find out if your browser or app sends the information.
How does it work?
It all begins with a browser, extension or app that supports GPC. Currently, that means using a development version of Brave, the DuckDuckGo app for Android or iOS, or browser extensions by DuckDuckGo, Disconnect, EFF or Abine.
Brave has GPC enabled and without options to turn it off, other browsers, apps or extensions may require users to enable it first. In the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser app for instance, it is necessary to enable Global Privacy Control in the app settings to use it.
For users, that is all there is to it. The browser, app or extension adds the GPC information to the data that is submitted during connections so that sites are aware of it.
The next step depends entirely on the site that the user connects to. Sites that don't participate will ignore the header, and everything remains as if the Global Privacy Control directive does not exist.
If a site participates, it will honor the request and make sure that user data is not shared or sold to third-parties.
Will the GPC become something major?
Do Not Track was launched with much hope that it would change online privacy to the better, but it turned out that it did not. In fact, it could even be used in fingerprinting efforts.
There is a chance that the GPC's fate will be similar. Right now, support is limited to a few extensions, apps, a single desktop browser with marginal market share, and some sites that participate. While some of the participating sites are major, e.g. the New York Times, it is a very limited solution at the moment.
Mozilla and Automattic (WordPress) are also spearheading the effort but have not made any implementations at this point.
Even if these two companies, and maybe others, would implement GPC support, it would still require major Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft or Apple to join as well, and for legislation in other regions of the world to introduce privacy bills, to avoid GPC becoming a Do Not Track 2.0 effort.
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