Debate over IE10’s Do Not Track Feature

Casey BartoThe industry has been abuzz over the recent announcement from Microsoft that its upcoming release of Internet Explorer 10 would have a Do Not Track option turned on by default. In fact, the announcement has gone so far as to spawn some conspiracy theories over whether the move was put in place in an attempt to take a bite out of Google’s online advertising business.
ClickZ’s Kate Kaye writes, “If Microsoft actually does implement DNT by default (some stakeholders think the backlash may persuade it not to), the online ad industry could simply decide not to recognize DNT signals at all, meaning companies would continue tracking and collecting data whether or not a user has DNT enabled.”

Estimating that over a quarter of Internet users would be using IE10, Wired’s Ryan Shingel provides this scenario, “If indeed the net’s major advertisers obeyed Do Not Track and IE10 keeps the default, more than a quarter of the net’s users would be opted out of behavioral ad tracking by default.”

Shingel continues, “That’d be a far cry from a purely opt-in system that might be used by a single-digit percentage of opt-in users — those who likely don’t click on ads in the first place. So that could make the online advertising industry back out of the process and decide not to implement DNT — or to write its own rules for how it interprets DNT.”

However, merely a week later, it was announced that because Microsoft’s Do Not Track option will be turned on by default, it won’t be compliant with the latest Do Not Track specification, which states that users must choose to turn on the option.

In a blog post “respectfully disagreeing” with the above opinions, Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch writes that despite what appears to be non-compliance with the DNT specification, Microsoft will continue to push to have its Do Not Track option turned on by default.

“More precisely, the specification has not been completed by the Working Group, and there is no official DNT standard today,” says Lynch. “We believe the W3C working group should continue to develop this standard…. In short, we agree with those who say this is all about user choice. However, we respectfully disagree with those who argue that the default setting for DNT should favor tracking as opposed to privacy.”

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s latest announcement?

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  1. […] of course, what would an industry news roundup be without a Do Not Track update? Last time, Microsoft had announced that IE10 would come with its Do Not Track option on by default which, as it turns out, would […]

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