April 6, 2015 weblog
Do Not Track will be off default state in IE, Spartan
The Do Not Track (DNT) requests that a web application disable its tracking individual users. Well, Microsoft announced it is changing how Do Not Track (DNT) is implemented in future versions of their browsers. They will no longer enable it as the default state in Windows Express Settings. Dropping the default. Finished. The End. Internet Explorer will stop sending DNT signals to websites by default. According to Neil McAllister in The Register, "DNT will now ship disabled by default in Microsoft's browsers – including both IE and the new Project Spartan."
Instead, said Brendon Lynch, the company' s chief privacy officer, "DNT will not be the default state in Windows Express Settings moving forward, but we will provide customers with clear information on how to turn this feature on in the browser settings should they wish to do so."
The news came by way of a Microsoft post on April 3 from Lynch. The move is "to reflect the current requirements of the privacy standard for tracking preferences," he said. He went on to explain that the "World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has continued to refine language to address how users express a preference regarding tracking. The latest draft of the standard reads: Key to that notion of expression is that the signal sent MUST reflect the user's preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user's control; this applies equally to both the general preference and exceptions. The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user. In the absence of user choice, there is no tracking preference expressed. [Lynch added the emphasis]
PandoDaily's Nathaniel Mott reacted to the announcement: "This seems like a major blow to online privacy, but it probably won't have much of an effect on most people who browse the Web." Mott reminded readers that "it's not as if Do Not Track really prevents companies from monitoring consumers in order to better serve up relevant ads. It's more of a digital placebo that merely makes consumers feel better." Similarly, Adnan Farooqui said in Ubergizmo that the feature is just a request; it doesn't actually block tracking. It is up to advertisers to comply with the Do Not Track request. "Microsoft isn't abandoning consumer privacy," said Mott. "It's attempting to make it so that people who actively enable Do Not Track might stand a chance of not being, you know, tracked."
This change by Microsoft will apply both when customers set up a new PC for the first time, and when they upgrade from a previous version of Windows or Internet Explorer.
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