When Microsoft released the preview of Internet Explorer 10 at the beginning of June and announced that in Windows 8 the browser will be sending a “Do Not Track” signal to Web sites by default, the statement started a heated discussion among advertisers, online analytics companies, and the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium.
The decision has been welcomed by privacy advocates, but it is believed that it just might ultimately kill the Do Not Track initiative started by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which, by the way, does not compel sites to comply with the user’s do not track request.
The debate was started once again on Tuesday, when Brendon Lynch, Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer, confirmed that, despite all the opposition, the company still means to ship IE10 with “Do Not Track” on by default.
“DNT will be enabled in the ‘Express Settings’ portion of the Windows 8 set-up experience. There, customers will also be given a ‘Customize’ option, allowing them to easily switch DNT ‘off’ if they’d like,” he explained. “Customers will receive prominent notice that their selection of Express Settings turns DNT ‘on.’ In addition, by using the Customize approach, users will be able to independently turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ a number of settings, including the setting for the DNT signal.”
“A ‘Learn More’ link with detailed information about each recommended setting will help customers decide whether to select Express Settings or Customize. A Privacy Statement link is also available on the screen,” he continued, and added that Windows 7 customers using IE10 will receive prominent notice that DNT is turned on in their new browser, together with a link providing more information about the setting.
The Tracking Protection Working Group is now looking at a new round of debating, as Microsoft’s initial (and now confirmed) statement has surely raised again the question among companies in the tracking industry of whether the DNT standard should be adopted or not, whether it should allow browsers to switch on the DNT option by default and, if not, whether companies that ignore the DNT request from these browsers can be considered not compliant.
I’m very interested in seeing how this ends up, although I don’t have much hope that any privacy self-regulation efforts by companies whose success is directly tied to ignoring it will ever be enough to satisfy those of us that care about it.