Break out the champagne and put on your party hats: A softwareheavyweight just struck a major blow for the concept of Privacy byDesign. Microsoft has elected to release Internet Explorer 10.0 with Do NotTrack as the default setting. Microsoft Chief Privacy OfficerBrendon Lynch blogged about the decision here . He said, in part: We believe that consumers should have more control over howinformation about their online behavior is tracked, shared andused. Online advertising is an important part of the economysupporting publishers and content owners and helping businesses ofall shapes and sizes to go to market. |
There is also value forconsumers in personalized experiences and receiving advertisingthat is relevant to them. Of course, we hope that many consumers will see this value and makea conscious choice to share information in order to receive morepersonalized ad content. For us, that is the key distinction.Consumers should be empowered to make an informed choice and, forthese reasons, we believe that for IE10 in Windows 8, aprivacy-by-default state for online behavioral advertising is theright approach. While both Chrome and Firefox have Do Not Track capabilities builtin, they re turned off by default. Microsoft is making its mark byturning that setting on.
Safari also blocks tracking cookies bydefault, but who outside of the Mac universe uses Safari? The online advertising industry reacted about the way you d expect-- by implying that if we don t all let advertisers follow usaround the Web jotting down every site we visit and what we dothere, the free Internet will shrivel up and die . The Digital Advertising Alliance , a consortium of online ad networks and data gatherers that hasbeen pushing for self-regulation of Web tracking for the pastseveral years (and was apparently blindsided by Microsoft sannouncement), issued a vigorous response . Here s the money quote: The DAA is very concerned that this unilateral decision by onebrowser maker - made without consultation within theself-regulatory process - may ultimately narrow the scope ofconsumer choices, undercut thriving business models, and reduce theavailability and diversity of the Internet products and servicesthat millions of American consumers currently enjoy at no charge. DAA spokeshuman Stu Ingis went on to tell the Wall Street Journal s Julia Angwin that online advertisers support consumer choice, not a choicemade by one browser or technology vendor.
Essentially he ssaying that by making IE 10 private by default Microsoft is takingthe choice out of users hands. Which is, of course, utter horse manure. Microsoft is in factgiving users a choice a choice to use a browser where privacy isthe default setting. It s the advertising industry that s makethe decision for consumers about whether they will be tracked bymaking that the default setting for the vast majority of Websurfers. But before I get any further into this, let s get a few thingsstraight, shall we? 1, When advertising groups say they support Do Not Track (DNT),what they really mean is they support Do Not Target Me With AdsBut Continue To Hoover Up All My Anonymous Web Behavior (orDNTMWABCTHUAMAWB for short).
They re still collecting data onusers, they re just not delivering ads to you based on that data.In other words, they remove the key benefit of tracking (morerelevant ads) while keeping the primary threat (creating a profileof your online habits). Some members of Congress are calling on the FTC to draw up rulesthat explicitly block data collection as well as ad targeting,something the tracking companies are resisting. 2. The DAA does represent most of the major US companies in thewhole Web tracking ecosystem.
But they represent less than aquarter of the companies listed in Evidon s database of some 800 Web trackers . So even in the best case scenario, many of the smaller no-namecompanies that are tracking me are wholly unaffected by the DAA svoluntary program. The fact is, some people even diehard privacy types -- willchoose tracking over not tracking in some instances. For example, Iinstalled Abine s Do Not Track Plus several months ago in my primary browser, and I ve probably shutit off for individual sites more often than I ve kept it on.
Why?Because DNT+ prevented me from sharing that page on Facebook orTwitter, or kept me from being able to log in to leave Comments, orinconvenienced me in some other way. That s because Facebook,Twitter, Google+, Disqus, and all the others are also Web trackersthat can capture big chunks of your Web surfing history. A betteroption in this instance is probably Ghostery, which offers more fine grained blocking of advertisers, trackers, and widgets. Bottom line: If tracking really is so essential to the freeInternet, as the ad industry claims, then what s the problem?Won t people naturally choose to be tracked in order to get accessto all those relevant ads and free content? I think we all know theanswer to that, which is why the DAA is so spooked by Microsoft sdecision.
Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he ll make something up). Visithis snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites . For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook . Now read this: Facebook's 'man in the middle' attack on our data Making Facebook private won't protect you Google s personalized search results are way too personal.
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