I personally believe the upcoming do-not-track list (similar to do-not-call) is going to be a complete bust because it wholly depends upon whether web companies actually honor it or not. Larger ones will, smaller ones won’t and that’s just the way it will work.

The key to understanding do-not-track relies 100% on your cookie data. Yes, I’m going to tell you "clear your cookies and cache"; the same thing you’ve heard a million times before.

There are however a few other ways you can browse without having to remember to clear that data.

Private Browsing

The one (and only one) good thing about private browsing is that once the browser is closed, all session data is cleared. If you’re worried about Google or Facebook or whatever-site "following" you around via means of cookies, private browsing is by far the easiest way to get around that.

You can launch a private browsing session through means of the mouse, but it’s better if you just remember the keystroke.

When the browser is open:

Firefox: CTRL+SHIFT+P
Internet Explorer 8: CTRL+SHIFT+P
Chrome: CTRL+SHIFT+N

Auto-dump cookies on exit

If using private-session browsing is too much of an annoyance, you can simply instruct the browser to dump session data on exit instead. This is almost exactly like private browsing.

Firefox

1. Tools / Options / Privacy
2. Choose "I close Firefox" from the drop-down menu

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All cookies will be dumped on close of the browser.

Google Chrome

1. Menu / Options / "Under the Hood" / Content Settings
2. Check box to clear cookies when the browser is closed.

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(Note: What you see above is a Chromium nightly build, which is what I use. Google Chrome looks slightly different but the setting is the same.)

Internet Explorer 8

Unfortunately as far as I know, you can’t have IE auto-dump session data on exit, so you’ll have to use Private Browsing, called InPrivate by IE.

You may get the idea of going to Internet Options / Privacy / Advanced and "overriding" settings here:

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DO NOT change this stuff. If you do, it will annoy you to no end. If you change either to ‘Block’, some web sites that require logins won’t work. If you change to ‘Prompt", you’ll get this pop-up dialog over and over again for every site that uses cookies.

Leave IE handle cookies the way it sees fit, otherwise use InPrivate browsing instead. When you open up a new InPrivate browser via CTRL+SHIFT+P, it can be run side-by-side with a non-private browser, so it’s fairly easy to deal with.

Do-not-track is all about cookies? That’s it?

In a nutshell, yes. Cookie data is what can ‘carry’ from site to site. Clear it, and the only other way you’re ‘tracked’ is by IP address – and that’s fine because it doesn’t hold any personal data.

Yes, once again the old ‘clear your cookies’ advice is still valid even today. Some things never change.