Microsoft on DNT Agree with those Who Say this is 'All About User Choice'

Microsoft recently announced that the next version of Internet Explorer 10 will include the Do-Not-Track (DNT) feature turned "on" by default. On the contrary, CNNMoney reports that Microsoft is bucking the recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium and the wishes of the online advertising community, including Google, that "Do Not Track" should only be […]

Do Not Track : Microsoft and Google plays Chicken

Microsoft recently announced that the next version of Internet Explorer 10 will include the Do-Not-Track (DNT) feature turned "on" by default. On the contrary, CNNMoney reports that Microsoft is bucking the recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium and the wishes of the online advertising community, including Google, that "Do Not Track" should only be turned on if a user deliberately turns it on.

The issue is that, if DNT is set by default, majority of user will most likely not turn off this feature -- and the advertising industry is upset with because that would restrict them to be able to track in their effort to deliver targeted advertisements. And, if the default setting is not changed, a significant portion of users will be 'off the radar' for advertisers and making harder for them to get you to click their advertisements, and this could put a dent in their CPM metrics.

Do Not Track is a step toward putting you in control of the way your information is collected and used online. Do Not Track is a feature in Firefox that allows you to let a website know you would like to opt-out of third-party tracking for purposes including behavioral advertising. It does this by transmitting a Do Not Track HTTP header every time your data is requested from the Web.

On Wednesday, a working group at the standards-setting World Wide Web Consortium affirmed its previously held agreement that Do Not Track should only be turned on if a user deliberately decides to do so. In other words, W3C is backing the exact opposite of what Microsoft has planned for IE10.

No agreement was reached, according to Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford privacy researcher and Do Not Track technology developer who was on a conference call held Wednesday between Do Not Track's key players.

"It's not clear to what extent we'll get an agreement on this," Mayer said. "One of Google's representatives said on the call that the company will be able to do whatever it wants anyways. I'm stunned at how transparent some of these companies were -- they just want to minimize the number of Do Not Track users, period."

Microsoft noted that no final decision has been made by the W3C working group, and said it will continue to work with the organization on the issue.

Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch later in a written statement said, "While we respect the W3C's perspective, we believe that a standard should support a 'privacy by default' choice for consumers."

Citing, a recent study by the Pew that show 68 percent of respondents were "Not OK" with targeted advertising because they don't like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed. He said, this sentiment, coupled with our commitment to privacy by design, led us to think deeply about how users can exercise their DNT choice in IE10. Providing a choice regarding DNT means having a setting users can control. When a setting is created, however, the software provider needs to decide on the initial default (i.e., the state of the setting when the product is first launched). We ultimately concluded that the appropriate privacy-friendly default for DNT in IE10 is "on."

"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," he said.