Bad news for online ad industry insiders with bets that Microsoft will flip-flop on its decision to enable Do Not Track by default: Microsoft is not backing down.
Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch reaffirmed the company’s commitment yesterday in a blog post. However, he indicated that the upcoming Internet Explorer 10 version will prominently alert users that DNT will be turned on if they select the browser’s Express Settings as opposed to customizing settings. Most users, of course, tend to go with the default rather than personalizing their settings.
“Customers will receive prominent notice that their selection of Express Settings turns DNT ‘on.’ In addition, by using the Customize approach, users will be able to independently turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ a number of settings, including the setting for the DNT signal,” noted Lynch in an August 7 Microsoft blog post. “A ‘Learn More’ link with detailed information about each recommended setting will help customers decide whether to select Express Settings or Customize. A Privacy Statement link is also available on the screen. Windows 7 customers using IE10 will receive prominent notice that DNT is turned on in their new browser, together with a link providing more information about the setting.”
Microsoft in late May shocked the online ad ecosystem when it revealed that it would automatically enable DNT by default in IE 10. Online advertisers, ad tech firms, and industry trade groups immediately balked, and have since tried to convince Microsoft that the decision could not only wreak havoc on data collection and use for online ad targeting and measurement, but it could delegitimize the Internet industry’s work toward establishing DNT standards that are accepted by all players. Some suggest that because the industry has counted on minimal consumer adoption of DNT, ad networks, site publishers, and ad tech firms could make an industry-wide choice to ignore DNT signals from IE, rendering them impotent.
Since Microsoft said it would enable DNT by default, wrote Lynch, “we have conducted additional consumer research that confirmed strong support for our ‘consumer-privacy-first’ approach to DNT. We have also discussed our point of view with many interested parties, who want to learn more about how our customers will first experience and control the DNT setting in IE.”
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