Do Not Track Is Not Allowed To Be Enabled By Default

8 June 2012

Windows IT Pro:

This week, the industry group responsible for the “Do Not Track“ privacy protection functionality issued a proposed change to the spec that contradicts Microsoft’s plans to enable this feature by default in its next browser, Internet Explorer (IE) 10. “Do Not Track“ must be disabled by default and manually enabled by users, according to this new spec. And that means Microsoft will need to change IE.

This is ridiculous. It is outrageous that the specification body will undermine Microsoft’s implementation of the service, simply because they respect user privacy. In fact, the governing body actively encourage advertisers to ignore Microsoft’s preference if its “on-by-default” policy continues.

The ADA, an abbreviation for the Advertising Digital Alliance no less, are clearly biased. “Do Not Track” is a scam. It is a propaganda scheme, that really shrouds the advertisers’ goal of maintaining traditional revenue sources. In fact, in their own statement, they basically admit this.

[Microsoft’s] unilateral decision, 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.

The quote “undercut thriving business” echoes back to the whole idea of skating where the puck is, rather than where it is going. I wouldn’t exactly describe the newspaper industry as “thriving”, for instance. They are profitable now, but the future is bleak.

Effectively, the ADA is a cohort of backwards online media companies, who have no interest in expanding consumer privacy options online. “Do Not Track” is optionally implemented to start with1, and as demonstrated above, the defaults (which 90% of users will never change, let alone think of changing) are biased towards the interests of advertisers2. In my view, a complete propaganda palaver, and more evidence of incumbent business trying to sustain outdated business models.

From now on, I have no care for “Do Not Track”. It is immaterial whether browsers or websites implement it or not, because it is meaningless. Meaningless.

1 If you really want to stop sites from tracking you, enable the private browsing feature in your browser, such as “incognito” in Chrome.

2 In reality, their own interests. Advertising Digital Alliance.