Ad industry calls IE10's 'Do Not Track' setting 'unacceptable'

Privacy advocates hit back, call demands 'bizarre'

By , Computerworld |  IT Management, do not track, IE10

Many of the country's largest companies lashed out at Microsoft this week, claiming that its decision to turn on the "Do Not Track" privacy feature in Internet Explorer 10 would "harm consumers, hurt competition, and undermine American innovation."

In a letter addressed to three top Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer and the company's top lawyer, Brad Smith, companies ranging from McDonalds and General Motors to Intel and Visa demanded a sit-down with Microsoft to discuss Internet Explorer 10 (IE10).

IE10 is slated to ship alongside the Windows 8 operating system on Oct. 26. Although Microsoft has promised to also release a version of the browser suitable for Windows 7, it has consistently refused to give a timetable.

"ANA's Board of Directors is very upset that the choice being made by Microsoft is one that will ultimately threaten to reduce the vast array of free content and services available to consumers," the advertisers claimed. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is an industry lobbying group.

Microsoft drew the ire of online advertisers -- and praise from many privacy advocates -- when in late May it announced that IE10 would have the "Do Not Track" (DNT) option switched on by default. Later, it backed away slightly, saying users could turn it off when they were first told of the feature as Windows went through its setup paces.

Do Not Track is a browser feature that signals whether a user wants online advertisers and websites to track his or her movements. Four of the five major browsers -- Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari -- can send a DNT signal. Google has pledged that Chrome will support DNT by year's end.

"When presented as a default 'on,' by design Microsoft is no longer creating a choice of whether or not data about consumers will be tracked," the ANA's letter continued. "Rather, Microsoft appears determined to stop the collection of Web viewing data. That is unacceptable."


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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