Feeds

Advertisers slam Microsoft over 'Do not track' decision

Accuses Redmond of going rogue

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

Microsoft's decision to enable the "Do not track" feature by default in Internet Explorer 10 should please privacy advocates, but it has sparked condemnation from the online advertising industry.

Microsoft made the announcement on IE10 with the release of the (probably) final beta for Windows 8 on Thursday, and Brendon Lynch, chief privacy officer at Microsoft, wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the company's position. He said consumers should have more control of what happens to their data and should decide if they want more personalized advertising.

"We hope that many consumers will make a conscious choice to share information in order to receive more personalized ad content. For us, that is the key distinction," he said. "Consumers should be empowered to make an informed choice and, for these reasons, we believe that for IE10 in Windows 8, a privacy-by-default state for online behavioral advertising is the right approach."

But the Digital Advertising Alliance, the industry body representing almost all online advertisers, promptly called foul. It has worked with Microsoft and the government for over three years on proposals to ensure privacy and still allow tracking without "Do not track" being turned on by default, it said, and now Redmond has acted unilaterally.

"While new Web technologies deliver more relevant advertising to consumers, comprehensive industry self-regulation is also providing consumers with meaningful choices about the collection of their data. The Administration and FTC have praised these efforts," said DAA general counsel Stu Ingis in a statement. This "threatens to undermine that balance, limiting the availability and diversity of Internet content and services for consumers."

Track attack

The DAA told the Wall Street Journal that the industry representatives and government had agreed that the advertising world would regulate itself and honor "Do not track", so long as browser manufacturers didn't make it a default setting. Nevertheless Microsoft received praise from US congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass.), co-Chair of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus.

"Microsoft is taking an important first step towards greater privacy protections for consumers by making 'Do Not Track' the default for its new browser," he said. "It is my hope that Microsoft and other companies will go further in the future, so that 'Do Not Track' also means 'Do Not Collect,' giving consumers the ability to say no to both targeted advertising and collection of their personal data."

Advertisers are no fools – they know that if "do not track" is the default setting then most users will leave things that way and their information flow will dry up, whereas only the privacy-conscious will turn on the feature manually if it is switched off. Microsoft's move with IE10 has a lot of people in the online advertising industry nervous, but it is difficult to see how they could make the company change its mind. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.