Microsoft defends default Do Not Track in IE10
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 11 Jun 2012 at 10:16
Microsoft has defended its Do Not Track implementation in IE10, saying it prefers to side with "privacy" than advertisers.
In the Release Preview of Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 became the first browser to turn on Do Not Track by default, which requests websites do not use tracking technologies such as cookies for that user. However, the W3C's current working draft for the DNT specification says it shouldn't be switched on automatically, as users should actively decide to use it.
"The choice mechanism must not have the user permission preference selected by default," the draft reads - stressing, however, that it is only a working proposal and doesn't necessarily represent the views of the W3C.
Still, if the draft goes ahead, a working group conference call suggested Microsoft wouldn't be able to claim it meets the W3C specification.
We respectfully disagree with those who argue that the default setting for DNT should favor tracking as opposed to privacy
Microsoft defended its decision, saying the W3C standard isn't yet finalised and that it would rather err on the side of user privacy.
"Providing a choice regarding DNT means having a setting users can control," said Brendon Lynch in a Microsoft blog post. "When a setting is created, however, the software provider needs to decide on an initial default (ie, the sate of the setting when the product is first launched). We ultimately conculded that the appropriate privacy-friendly default for DNT in IE10 is 'on'."
"We appreciate that this decision clearly surprised some people," he said, adding Microsoft respects the W3C standards body and is even hosting the next meeting. "A portion of this week’s W3C Tracking Protection Working Group conference call was referred to as a final 'decision' of the W3C; this, however, is inaccurate. There is no final decision yet."
"In short, we agree with those who say this is all about user choice," said Lynch. "However, we respectfully disagree with those who argue that the default setting for DNT should favour tracking as opposed to privacy."
That stance puts Microsoft squarely against the direction of the current W3C draft. However, the W3C isn't looking for the default setting to be off, but for users to be forced to make a decision one way or the other.
For example, as the Information Commissioner's Office has previously suggested, browsers could have no default setting and require users to make a choice during installation.
"We're hoping to see from newer versions of browsers a kind of prompt when you first launch it," Dave Evans, the ICO's head of business policy, told PC Pro at a press briefing last month. "As well as all the other stuff you have to go through, [it says] here's the default settings we want to apply, here's what you can do to change them."
Forcing users to make an active decision would mean the Do Not Track standard could potentially be used to meet the new UK cookie laws, which require sites to get consent from users before dropping cookies on their computers.
Well done Microsoft.....
I'm in favour of default DNT - pretty obvious why the advertisers are against it but I couldn't care less what they think. I use AdBlock anyway to get rid of the damn things!
By everton2004 on 11 Jun 2012
If W3C says users must choose then advertisers will only quibble over the question that's asked.
They'll claim it's much easier to understand "do you want to see relevant advertisements?" than it is to understand "do you want to switch off DNT?".
Of course it's also easy to understand "do you want advertisers to track every site you visit?" but the advertisers won't mention that.
By TBennett on 11 Jun 2012
...But please at least change the default pop-up blocker setting from Medium to high! No wonder a load of people get blitzed and move to other browsers. Dumb, MS, Dumb.
By rhythm on 11 Jun 2012
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