Redmond, Washington -- Just last month micro-blogging outfit Twitter enabled 'Do Not Track' option and now the software heavyweight Microsoft has rattled online advertisers by enabling the “Do Not Track” technology by default in the Windows 8 Release Preview. The commonly despised feature will be turned on by default in Internet Explorer 10, a move that has been upsetting the advertising community.
The software maker's unexpected decision to deactivate Web site tracking by default in IE10 is not being appreciated by the advertisers. And regardless of what the “trackers” might presume, though, the “trackees” will appreciate that Microsoft is being more proactive about protecting privacy, and putting control in the hands of the users.
In a blog post explaining the decision, Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch acknowledges that online advertising is important to the Internet economy, and that consumers receive value in the form of a more relevant, personalized Web experience. In the end, though, Lynch states, “We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used.”
Thus, now when Microsoft's Windows 8 arrives to a computer near you it will accompany Internet Explorer 10, and with that browser will come a “Do Not Track” feature that will automatically be turned on. The privacy tool, which was approved by the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year, enables internet users to indicate to websites that they do not wish to have their browsing habits tracked. Mozilla's Firefox browser and Yahoo have been early endorsers of the feature, and Twitter recently welcomed the feature as well.
Most importantly, this latest anti-tracking move by Microsoft might be welcome news for privacy advocates, but it is more than likely to stick in the breadbasket of one certain online company that relies on its capability to track users: Google. The search engine colossus' bread and butter is personal information accumulated from internet users' browsing habits. Hence, the Do Not Track feature forbids third-party Web sites from tracking your online activity. Web sites that receive the Do Not Track, or DNT, signal from your browser are supposed to honor that request, just as telemarketers are not supposed to call people on a “do not call” registry.
According to an article that appeared in AdWeek suggests that the default 'Do Not Track' may explode and also cause otherwise compliant organizations to ignore the 'Do Not Track’ flag from Internet Explorer. The article quotes Stu Ingis, general counsel of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), saying, “In my view, most websites will ignore it. They are not going to put themselves out of business.”
Although, Microsoft may have ruffled some feathers with advertisers, as well as the opposition from organizations like the DAA, but the move by software giant should be commended for having the courage to put the privacy of individual users first.
Conclusively, Ad companies are supposed to start honoring DNT requests by the end of 2012.