Microsoft Enables Do Not Track In Internet Explorer 10 – The First Mainstream Browser to Do So

Brendon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer of Microsoft released a statement saying that Internet Explorer 10, the bundled Internet browser with Windows 8, will have the Do Not Track (DNT) option enabled by default and thus will become the first (mainstream) web browser to do so. (Maxthon has been doing this for an eternity, I believe)

Today, Microsoft announced Windows 8 has reached Release Preview and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 will have “Do Not Track” (DNT) on by default. This post includes additional thoughts about this important milestone in our effort to advance trust and consumer privacy online. Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 will be the first browser to have DNT on by default. Consumers can change this setting, but the default will be to send the DNT signal to websites that consumers visit.

DNT is basically a little signal that is sent by the browser to the website that is being surfed that asks it to not track the user for online behavioral advertising. However, it must be stressed at this point that it is entirely optional for the receiving website to obey this signal. The DNT does not stop targeted tracking by itself.

Sending a DNT signal from a browser is only part of the process. Obviously, for DNT to be effective, it is also important that websites have a common understanding of what the consumer expects when their browser sends the DNT signal. As well as engineering the world’s most used browser, Microsoft also owns and manages a growing advertising business – including a network that provides advertising to our own and other Web properties, so we have a unique perspective into this discussion.

At the moment there is not yet an agreed definition of how to respond to a DNT signal, and we know that a uniform, industry-wide response will be the best way to provide a consistent consumer experience across the Web. 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.

Other browsers of today also have this option, but it is disabled by default, and many websites still abound that do not really conform to this signal.

So, the big question at this point is, how will it impact the online advertising game, considering that a sizable chunk of people use IE?

For the most part, developers may just choose to ignore the DNT tag, thus rendering it useless for the portion of people really concerned with it. What it actually portends for Google and other advertising agencies will become known in the coming months.

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