Microsoft said Thursday that it will make do-not-track the
latest Explorer iteration (10) in Windows 8, which drew some praise from
Capitol Hill and concern from online advertisers.
Microsoft, Mozilla and others have committed to the Obama
Administration that they would support a do-not-track browser option also
supported by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), but the default setting
takes it up a notch.
"[W]e hope that many consumers will see this value and
make a conscious choice to share information in order to receive more
personalized ad content," said Brendon Lynch, chief privacy officer,
Microsoft. "For us, that is the key distinction. 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."
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who co-chairs the Congressional
Privacy Caucus and has sponsored a do-not-track kids bill, was pleased, but
"Microsoft is taking an important first step towards greater
privacy protections for consumers by making â€˜Do Not Track' the default for its
new browser," he said, but added. "It is my hope that Microsoft and
other companies will go further in the future, so that Do Not Track also means â€˜Do
Not Collect,' giving consumers the ability to say no to both targeted
advertising and collection of their personal data."
Caucus Co-Chair Joe Barton (R-Tex.), called it a good first step. "I applaud Microsoft for their announcement of implementing the ‘Do-Not-Track' signal into their browser by default," Barton said in a statement. "Every future Internet Explorer user will now have greater control over their privacy and have the ability to opt-in to being tracked online. This is a step in the right direction and an acknowledgement by the company that users want control of their personal information. I strongly believe that it is not acceptable to invade the privacy of others at their own expense."
Online advertisers were troubled. "The DAA is very
concerned that this unilateral decision by one browser maker -- made without
consultation within the self-regulatory process -- may ultimately narrow the
scope of consumer choices, undercut thriving business models, and reduce the
availability and diversity of the Internet products and services that millions
of American consumers currently enjoy at no charge," said the group in a
So were advertisers in general. "Microsoft, which had been an active participant in the DAA's finely tuned Self-Regulatory Program regarding data collection and interest-based advertising, acted irresponsibly through its unilateral action to embed ‘Do Not Track' functionality into Internet Explorer 10 with a default setting in the ‘on' position," said Bob Liodice, president of the Association of National Advertisers, in a statement. "Microsoft's decision, made without industry discussion or consensus, undercuts years of tireless, collaborative efforts across the business community -- efforts that were recently heralded by the White House and Federal Trade Commission as an effective way to educate consumers and address their concerns regarding data collection, targeted advertising and privacy. "