Microsoft's privacy-by-default in IE10 sparks opposition

June 4, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

( -- The Internet browser headache in having to initiate an opt-out exit from advertisers who keep landing on your pages because they think they have a plausible target has turned a corner. Microsoft has moved to turn the practice upside down, or rather inside out. Users will have to opt-in to invite advertisers in the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE10. Microsoft has made the 'Do Not Track' feature, which stops companies from being able to trace a user’s web behavior, the default setting. In doing so, Microsoft has made IE10 the only web browser to present the tracking feature as an opt-in, not an opt-out, proposition.

In announcing the on-default DNT policy for IE10 in Windows 8, Brandon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer of the company, said the move was inspired by the FTC’s work in calling on both technology and sectors to come up with a uniform mechanism for online behavioral targeting of ads. Also taking the message forward, the corporate vice president of Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch, said a Windows user experience that is 'private by default' arrives at a time when so much user data is collected online."We think it is progress and that consumers will favor products designed with their privacy in mind over products that are designed primarily to gather their data," he stated.

Not surprisingly, news of consumers to experience private by default in their IE browsers fell like a breath of fresh air for greater-privacy supporters and like a ton of bricks for advertisers. The question being posed is whether or not other browser groups will do the same as . The sentiment among those against the move is that the decision comes in an already ailing economy, where the move could deal a blow to advertising networks counting on the efficacy of personalized, targeted ads.

Voicing its opposition, the Association of National Advertisers issued a statement that Microsoft, in making that decision, had acted "irresponsibly." The association referred to Microsoft’s “unilateral decision” to embed 'Do Not Track' functionality in version 10 of its IE browser with a default setting in the on versus off position. The Association, which has a membership of 450 companies, raised the argument that the decision “removes choice by preventing consumers from experiencing interest-based advertising and making an informed decision about its benefits, the result of which will be untargeted, irrelevant online advertising.”

Microsoft looks forward to other industry leaders making the same kind of move, nonetheless. “We also know from experiences - such as the P3P standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) - that initiatives to advance privacy are much less effective if other industry leaders don’t join in adopting the approach,” said Lynch.

DNT is optional; websites don’t need to support it. Wariness about user-behavior tracking, and now the idea of DNT by default, are likely to raise noise around this issue. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) who co-sponsored the Do Not Track Kids Act of 2011 along with Joe Barton (R-TX), has called the decision "an important first step towards greater privacy protections for consumers," but he wants to see some next steps too. "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."

IE10 will be the browser on Windows 8, due for general release later this year.

Explore further: Microsoft unveils new privacy feature for IE

More information:

Related Stories

Microsoft unveils new privacy feature for IE

December 7, 2010

An upcoming version of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser will let users add lists of sites that they don't want tracking them, a peace offering amid uproar over the sneaky ways that websites watch their users as ...

Regulators, ad companies huddle over 'Do Not Track' features

April 12, 2012

The momentum of a growing multibillion-dollar industry is colliding with online privacy worries this week, as regulators and privacy advocates face off against the Internet advertising industry to hash out how proposed "Do ...

Yahoo! websites to get do-not-track tool

March 29, 2012

Yahoo! on Thursday said that it will soon add a tool to its websites that allows visitors to signal that they don't want their online activity tracked for ad targeting or other ends.

Browser bypasses put Google in privacy cross hairs

February 22, 2012

Privacy advocates, lawyers and powerful rival Microsoft were piling on Google on Tuesday for sidestepping Web browsing software to tailor ads for people signed into its online services.

Champions shaping up for browser battles

February 18, 2011

Google on Friday released a revved-up version of Chrome as rivals Microsoft and Mozilla beefed up their own champions for the competitive Internet browsing software arena.

Recommended for you

Volumetric 3-D printing builds on need for speed

December 11, 2017

While additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3-D printing, is enabling engineers and scientists to build parts in configurations and designs never before possible, the impact of the technology has been limited by ...

Tech titans ramp up tools to win over children

December 10, 2017

From smartphone messaging tailored for tikes to computers for classrooms, technology titans are weaving their way into childhoods to form lifelong bonds, raising hackles of advocacy groups.

Mapping out a biorobotic future  

December 8, 2017

You might not think a research area as detailed, technically advanced and futuristic as building robots with living materials would need help getting organized, but that's precisely what Vickie Webster-Wood and a team from ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2012
I do agree with this step in full extent. Currently I'm using ad banning plugins in all my browsers, so I just welcome, this functionality will be built in at least in MS IE. IMO it's a manifestation of hidden trade war between Microsoft and Google. Google for example limits/cripples the functionality of MSIE at all its sites, including global search web pages, so it's not surprising for me, MS uses the same strategy.
2.8 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
The Association, which has a membership of 450 companies, raised the argument that the decision removes choice by preventing consumers from experiencing interest-based advertising and making an informed decision about its benefits, the result of which will be untargeted, irrelevant online advertising.

BS - the choice is the on/off switch.
1.8 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
Requiring the user to choose to be tracked if tracking is to happen should be the default. But since the "do not track" setting is optional to sites, it is mostly meaningless anyway.

Ad blocking plugins will continue to be used as long as browsers provide private information to web sites.
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 04, 2012
Where in the heck did advertisers get the idea hat they have a right to bombard us with obnoxious, unwanted intrusions on our online time or other entertainment time? Perhaps it is time for a consumer revolution in which we actively boycott any company that harasses us with constant advertising intrusion. Maybe if we hit them on their bottom line, they might get the message that their "messages" are unwanted and unnecessary.
5 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
i actually find this piece most amusing. considering that windows 8 gives m/s the absolute right (by acceptance of the licence agreement) to interrogate and disable any software found running on the users system that m/s does not like.
it will also be interesting to see if m/s allows mozilla to run on windows 8. so far m/s say it will be banned.

this sounds more like window users are now being caught in the middle of the war between m/s and google. this move seems more to stop google gaining more revenue from the advertisers. cut off the revenue and google drops. thus putting m/s back on top.
or am i being too cynical?
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 04, 2012
microsoft is digging its own grave.
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
.Microsoft is digging its own grave...
MS didn't succeed with ads on the internet, but he still keeps the desktop and corporate sphere. And he could sell the advertisement there.

For example, many people were annoyed with big ribbon in new version of MS Office. I couldn't imagine, why such thing is implemented into modern SW at all. The usage of tablets with touch screens gave me a partial answer (although I cannot imagine, how is it possible to work productively with MS Office on touch screen anyway). But the another answer could be, the wide ribbon bar is an ideal space for future product advertisement - i.e. something, which adware like the Opera browser has already implemented. The new Metro design of Windows 8 points into the same direction.
5 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
I understand that online advertising fuels the content that we all enjoy. I think back to having ever clicked on an online ad, and I cannot think of a single time I did it on purpose. Online Ads are almost always scams of some type, lead to a virus or malware in some cases, or its about male enhancement. Online advertisers need to have LEGITIMATE ads before I will care about what they want. Why not put an ad for McDonalds, or something I will actually atleast recognize and respond to, instead of some crap about "Learn the secret to Blah Blah" or "Get scammed now, click here" or "Increase the size of your man parts". If online ads werent just horrible, I would respect them more. So yes, I agree that these rediculous and malware infecting online advertisers can go to &%!!!
5 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
I block ads because they're flashy. When I'm reading an article, visual stimuli all over is tiring and irritating. If people who make ads were more sensible, there would be no problem. But as it stands, it's my computer and I choose what to have on it.

I read a while back that the Adblock Plus folks were selectively letting some ads through, especially text-based ads that are non-intrusive. I actually support this.
3 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2012
@btb101 The same thing happened with Apple and Flash, but both are still going strong. The user demand for browsers other than IE will likely cause Microsoft not to block Firefox or Chrome.

@kaasinees If critics were right, Microsoft and every other major company would have gone bankrupt hundreds of times already.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2012
Whether on TV or online, it is interesting that advertisers continue to suppose that the more annoying, repetitive, dumbing down the adds are the more effective they are. Hey guys, give it a rest already. I'm all for bringing products and services to market but making TV 50% content and 50% advertizing is creating a dulling resentment. Same thing with the Net. if I'm bombarded repeatedly, I tend to boycott rather than buy. I try to NEVER reward bad behavior. When advertising gets offensively populous, I tend to shut it off, fire up the X-Box or go do something else altogether. Some advertizing is good. I want to know what's out there. Too much is just badgering, to that, my mind invariably says "&^%& OFF!!"
Vendicar Dickarian
1 / 5 (1) Jun 05, 2012
i actually find this piece most amusing. considering that windows 8 gives m/s the absolute right (by acceptance of the licence agreement) to interrogate and disable any software found running on the users system that m/s does not like.
it will also be interesting to see if m/s allows mozilla to run on windows 8. so far m/s say it will be banned.

Not sure what kind of dope you've been smoking, but Mozilla products will run just fine on Windows 8. As will any other company's products.

Which is not to say that MS will go out of its way to be friendly to all its competitors. But, considering the enormously costly antitrust suit they dealt with a few years back over this precise issue, it is unlikely that they will overstep the bounds of fair play any time soon.
not rated yet Jun 05, 2012
VD, there was question whether the slate version of Windows 8, aka 'Windows on Arm' would support the Gecko libraries that Mozilla would potentially use to create Firefox Metro. I've not seen any updates since March, so there may be a more definite answer by now, one way or another.

Microsoft has had several antitrust lawsuits brought against it over the years, but the most recent was about an incompatibility of Windows 95 with WordPerfect, at the time owned by Novell, who said that Microsoft witheld vital tech specs that they needed to make it work, resulting in a massive loss of marketshare? The lawsuit ended in a hung jury in December of 2011.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.