Sunnyvale, California — Yahoo has confirmed that it plans to ignore “Do Not Track” privacy requests sent by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE10) browser because, it claims, Redmond is violating the concept’s intent by turning it on by default.
Today’s announcement reignites a conflagration that was initiated by Microsoft’s announcement in May, and became even more provocative earlier this month when the Digital Advertising Alliance said advertising companies that choose to ignore Do Not Track requests “automatically set in IE10 or any other browser” would not be penalized.
The search engine reckons that because Microsoft’s browser has DNT turned on automatically it “does not express user intent” so it is just going to ignore it altogether. Yahoo said in a blog post this afternoon that the choice to enable Do Not Track should be made by the user, not the browser maker:
“Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users’ direction. In our view, this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them. It basically means that the DNT signal from IE10 doesn’t express user intent…. We will not recognize IE10’s default DNT signal on Yahoo properties at this time.”
In fact, Yahoo’s suggested reasoning is that by making the privacy control active by default, Microsoft is ignoring the wishes of its users. “Ultimately, we believe that DNT must map to user intent — not to the intent of one browser creator, plug-in writer, or third-party software service,” said a statement released by Yahoo, titled “In Support of a Personalized User Experience.” “Therefore, although Yahoo will continue to offer Ad Interest Manager and other tools, we will not recognize IE10’s default DNT signal on Yahoo properties at this time,” it said.
“Our users have come to expect a personalized Yahoo experience customized for their lives,” the company wrote in a statement. “We fundamentally believe that the online experience is better when it is personalized,” the statement added.
On the other hand, Do Not Track (DNT) indicates whether a user wants online advertisers and websites to track his or her movements. Four of the five major browsers namely — Firefox, IE, Opera and Safari — can now send a DNT signal, while Chrome will include the option by the end of this year. All but IE, however, initially leave it in the “off” position and require users to manually turn on the signal, it tells advertisers that you don’t want to have your movements across the web monitored.
This puts the restrictions on search engine’s plans to personalize every result they serve you because you have told them that you do not want them to use the fact that you visited Wardrobes R Us in order to return wardrobe-relevant ads or search results at a later date.
However, so far, not all websites support the movement — Twitter is one of DNT’s most high-profile supporters, but some major sites like Facebook still choose to ignore it.
Eventually, to Yahoo’s credit, it claims that this is not the end of DNT for Yahoo users, concluding its blog post on the matter saying that it is still “committed to working with the World Wide Web Consortium to reach a DNT standard” as long as that standard suits both users and its own search engine needs.