The Global Privacy Control (GPC) explained in 500 words

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 10, 2020

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?

global privacy control

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.

Now You: What is your take on the Global Privacy Control?

The Global Privacy Control (GPC) explained in 500 words
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The Global Privacy Control (GPC) explained in 500 words
The Global Privacy Control (GPC) is a new initiative to improve user privacy and rights on the Internet.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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