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Microsoft Internet Explorer Privacy The Internet Politics

Microsoft Wins Congressional Backing For Do-Not-Track Default In IE10 147

Posted by timothy
from the crazy-pills-have-not-yet-worn-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Thought Do Not Track was strictly a geeks' issue? Think again. After Microsoft was slapped down for enabling DNT by default in Internet Explorer 10, the co-chairs of the US's Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus have sent a strongly-worded letter to the W3C urging it to reconsider. As points out, it's an interesting (unprecedented?) example of Congress interacting with the standards body: 'Whether members of the [working group] will take kindly to the Representatives' interference remains to be seen. Ed Markey's legislative director, Joseph Wender, has brought the letter to the attention of the group's mailing list, but, as of the time of writing, he hasn't received any replies.'"
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Microsoft Wins Congressional Backing For Do-Not-Track Default In IE10

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  • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:00AM (#40383875) Homepage Journal

    why don't they make it into a law that you have to have a "TRACK ME PLEASE" cookie for it to be legal to track your flow through multiple domains..

  • What the fuck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:14AM (#40383997) Homepage Journal

    Unless they're planning on adding the force of law to the DNT bit, all this will do is make advertisers ignore it (and, they could argue, rightfully so since they couldn't be certain that people turned it on of their own volition).

    Microsoft could pop up a dialog asking, but even then, who exactly is going to click "yes, track me"? Perhaps they should get together with some people from the advertising industry to come up with some fair copy that explains the benefits (targeted ads mean that you receive ads that will more likely interest you, after all) and drawbacks of cross-domain tracking, to ensure a semi-educated choice on the part of users.

    If they just turn it on and don't ask about it though, expect it to be yet another technology extinguished by poor Microsoft engineering decisions. (I was kinda hoping we were past that, guys.)

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:22AM (#40384113)

    Mozilla discussed that DNT would have no value if enabled by default

    Mozilla, who gets about 90% of their income [] from Google, sides with Google on this one?!? What a shocker!!

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:25AM (#40384147)
    You're looking at it the wrong way. If they say "On by default" for do not track, then do not track will be ignored by tracking advertisers. Adhering to it is not mandatory. This is what they want, so they can get your personal info from private entities with nothing more than imposing logos on headed paper and some threats involving the words "could" "might" and "potentially".
  • If it's the default, there will be virtually noone who turns it off...
    Those who care about privacy will leave it on, those who don't care won't even realise the option exists.
    Subsequently, advertisers will ignore it because it becomes fairly meaningless, and not ignoring it would lose them potential eyeballs who don't care about being tracked. So the feature just becomes worthless.

    On the other hand, if its off by default then only those who care about privacy will turn it on. Advertisers are quite happy to lose these eyeballs, as these people would generally not respond to advertising anyway. Everyone wins.

    The whole purpose of the DNT header is to allow users to make a statement of "I do not want to be tracked", but if you make it the default it will just be a statement of "I have probably not bothered to change the default settings and most likely don't even realise such settings exist"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:47AM (#40384385)

    Pointless argument, if advertisers don't ignore DNT in the first place they will definitely start doing so as soon as it puts a dent in their statistics, default or not.

    So long as there is absolutely no penalty for ignoring it, nobody will honor it.

  • by tgd (2822) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:12AM (#40384719)

    Re-read my post. It's not what is being sent, it is what's being kept and tracked.

    Look at the protocol. They can't keep more than is in there.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:04AM (#40386305) Homepage Journal

    This isn't the usual opt-in vs opt-out issue. DNT is explicitly trinary: yes/no/didn't_say. DNT is itself just a form of communication, not a policy imposed upon advertisers (yet).

    If you default people to DNT:1 without asking them, you are actually undermining DNT for people who did actually want to answer Yes.

    For Christmas, would you like

    1. A large lump of coal
    2. A smaller lump of coal and some x-ray specs (this is the default, and what you'll get if you don't answer)
    3. A hovercraft

    You're saying everyone should get a hovercraft unless they opt into a large lump of coal. Not only does that rule out anyone getting x-ray specs, but the increased hovercraft demand means the hovercrafts are going to be more expensive, so we're either not going to really get them (shit, I should have chosen the coal!), or they're going to be lamer than they would have been, if only the kids who wanted them got them.

    Please don't screw over the kids who really want a hovercraft, so much that they're actually willing to take 3 seconds of mouse clicking to tell Santa.

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