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Advertisers Blast Microsoft Over IE Default Privacy Settings 558

theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Microsoft is sticking to its decision to implement 'Do-Not-Track' as the default for IE 10, despite drawing the ire of corporate America, the Apache Software Foundation, and the FTC Chairman. Representatives of a veritable Who's Who of Corporate America — e.g., GM, IBM, BofA, Walmart, Merck, Allstate, AT&T, Motorola — signed off on a letter blasting Microsoft for its choice. 'By presenting Do Not Track with a default on,' the alliance argues, 'Microsoft is making the wrong choice for consumers.' The group reminds Microsoft that Apache — whose Platinum Sponsors have branded Microsoft's actions a deliberate abuse of open standards and designed its software to ignore the 'do-not-track' setting if the browser reaching it is IE 10. It also claims that the FTC Chairman, formerly supportive of Microsoft's privacy efforts, now recognizes 'the harm to consumers that Microsoft's decision could create.'"
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Advertisers Blast Microsoft Over IE Default Privacy Settings

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  • by PieDude ( 2745317 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:04AM (#41547399)
    I don't really understand what people are crying about. Microsoft has said that they will try to make IE10 better for users and this is one of the features implemented to enable that. Note that Microsoft itself owns an advertising network and is part of the advertising committee - it's that much that Microsoft wants to protect their users.

    Of course, Microsoft's actions aren't new. They have always cared about privacy. Their tracking and beta debugging has always been opt-in. This in unlike Google where you often cannot even opt-out, and it's never opt-in in any case.

    Microsoft simply cares about users privacy and advertisers are crying about it. Too bad for them, I say. Advertisers on TV manage to work without any tracking, it should work on the internet too.
  • by zenaida_valdez ( 599247 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:11AM (#41547465)

    I like it!

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:15AM (#41547481) Homepage Journal
    Ok riddle me this.....

    Exactly how would this be a detriment to the users?

    Everyone out there that objects to 'not being tracked' for advertisement purposes please raise their hands....

    [crickets chirping]

  • My brain hurts! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:15AM (#41547487) Homepage

    Microsoft doing something right, standing up to government and industry. The cognitive dissonance makes my brain hurt...

    That the FTC sees "harm to consumers" just shows that the FTC is a revolving door for industry lobbyists. I mean, it's like putting every new number on the "do not call" list, and requiring consumers to opt-in to intrusive advertising. How horrible that would be! /sarcasm

  • Just ask (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:16AM (#41547503) Homepage Journal

    When you first load up IE10 just ask if the user wants to be tracked. I'm sure 90% will say "no".

  • by shoemilk ( 1008173 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:18AM (#41547525) Journal
    I just finished reading the letter and found it disgusting. If you took it out of "the internet" and put it in the real world things like

    By setting the Internet Explorer browser to block data collection, Microsoft’s action could potentially eliminate the ability to collect web viewing data of up to 43 percent of the browsers used by Americans.

    would read more like

    By setting the curtains to closed by default, Microsoft’s action could potentially eliminate the ability to peep through windows of up to 43 percent of the houses used by Americans.

    To top it off, they have gems like this

    A simple example of advertising in the television medium makes this point clear. If consumers were presented a choice of whether they want advertisements on network television to be broadcast, consumers would likely choose “no advertising.” But if 43 percent of American households were removed from the television advertising audience, consumers collectively would suffer because network television as we know it would no longer be a viable business model.

    They're acting like MS is installing adblock and turning it on by default. What MS is doing is making the internet more like TV, where the adds are dumb and have to be generally targeted at the type of site, as opposed to creepily personalized.

  • Re:A thought ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:18AM (#41547531)

    No, this is part of the 'Embrace, extend and extinguish' technique.

    1) Embrace the do-not-track standard with MSIE.
    2) Change it, so it becomes useless.
    3) Continue selling advertisement and profiling users.

    Coperate America loves Microsoft because they can continue doing what they want, since Microsoft gave them the excuse to ignore the do-not-track feature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:19AM (#41547541)
    If the industry effort is opt in to privacy then damn right I am against it. If the standard demands opt in only then the standard is wrong and should be ignored and if sites decide to ignore the DNT tag then it is time for regulators to step in.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:22AM (#41547579) Homepage

    Advertisers: This is not the "wrong choice for consumers." It's the right choice for PEOPLE. It just happens to be negative for advertisers who have grown fat and lazy using a medium that is nearly free and mostly paid for by the 'consumers.'

    Screw you all. Respect the eyes of the people using the internet. I stopped watching TV because (1) they want me to pay for it and (2) I still get my intelligence assaulted with advertisements. I pay for internet but I can control who advertises as me and I will. I don't owe you a living at my expense. Take a page out of Google's playbook -- give us some actual value and give us a reason not to block you sorry asses.

    So advertisers go out there not saying what they mean, once again. Why can't they just speak the truth?! "It hurts our marketing value." Tough shit. BUILD your market and stop riding on the coat tails of other people creating their markets.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:25AM (#41547607)

    This. The only acceptable standard for sharing personal data is strictly opt-in, and defaulting to do-not-track creates such a standard. This may cause problems for some dubiously ethical targeted-advertising business models, but that is their problem and nobody else's. The Web thrived before targeting, and it will thrive after targeting.

  • Re:Just ask (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gsslay ( 807818 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:25AM (#41547609)

    And I'm sure 90% will say "Huh?" and click the nearest button to make the question go away.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:26AM (#41547613) Journal

    'the harm to consumers that Microsoft's decision could create.'" The only harm is to these business' pocketbooks.. For once I'm on MS side in this matter...

    No, no, you see, you need to look at this from the "trickle down" aspect of economics. See, corporations are good, you need to give them a lot of money and then they in turn give that to Americans via jobs and opportunities. So the best way for them to get money is to be able to track consumers so we need to make sure that consumers can be tracked. Ideally, it would be illegal for people to own bank accounts or liquid cash and everyone would basically spend their paycheck within a few days of getting it. And they would spend it online and all the corporations would know where everyone was spending every dollar. That way, the money can work as hard as possible for society by being in corporations' pockets. And then unemployment would be really low because there would be a lot of jobs with all this extra money in corporations. Because they're undeniably good entities and they have more rights than you do because you're not supplying jobs to yourselves, the corporations are.

    Why else would it be illegal for you to record every site and place your neighbor visits without their consent but be completely legal and, in fact, desired to allow a faceless corporation to do it? Duh, because we as a completely screwed up society have given the richer entities more rights than an average citizen.

  • by PieDude ( 2745317 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:35AM (#41547697)
    Like that is going to work. They did so well with the Safari incident [], too.
  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:37AM (#41547709)

    Exactly how would this be a detriment to the users?

    The browser is running on a user's hardware. It should always do what the _user_ wants, not what some adspamming company wants instead. It's common sense, "my hardware, my rules".

  • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:53AM (#41547843) Homepage Journal

    That's a very poor analogy.

    First of all, most curtains are open by default!

    Secondly, leaving that aside, which doesn't really pertain to anything, there's a difference between an anonymous secured computer trying to figure out what ads you might be interested in based upon information it "sees", and a peeping tom trying to catch you naked in the shower.

    Here's a question: would you object if, when installed and first run, IE popped up a message like this:

    Some advertisers would like their servers to use your browsing history to serve ads that are relevent to you. Do you want to allow them, or do you want to see generic ads of stuff you're probably not interested in?

    Before complaining the above is biased, tell me how. Tell me how it's untrue. And tell me why that would be worse than DNT by default, or no DNT by default.

  • Re:disgusting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:54AM (#41547849)
    throwing those that lack the knowledge to protect their own privacy under the bus so those technically knowledgable enough can enjoy some protection is NOT a solution and we all should be against it. It is the responsibility of software producers to protect users whereever possible. The defaults need to be something a user can trust otherwise we are just giving everyone in IT a bad name. Firewalls should always be on, security patches should be installed, privacy should be honored. Security and Privacy should not be something a user needs to choose. Users make enough bad choices and mistakes already without us giving them a low starting point.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 04, 2012 @08:56AM (#41547865)

    > network television as we know it would no longer be a viable business model.

    and nothing of value was lost.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:00AM (#41547913)

    It's likely in the UK and Europe that any advertiser ignoring this would be in breach of the data protection act.

    As you have to explicitly grant companies permission to store data on you should this reach the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK it would almost certainly go something like this:

    "ICO: Did the user opt in to tracking?"

    "Ad company: No."

    "ICO: Then you're guilty of breaking the data protection act, enjoy my new powers to grant 6 figure fines."

    The problem is browsers like Firefox have (as is usual for them) chosen to ignore the wishes of users and opt people in to tracking by default.

    As a tool for protecting privacy directly it's meaningless regardless of what the advertisers say they will or wont do if it can simply be ignored. As a legal instrument for making it explicit as to whether someone has opted in to being tracked or not it's great, if all browsers adopt it it may even become legally binding in some countries over time.

    This is one of those few times where Microsoft is actually doing the right thing for end users, though I suspect it's still for selfish reasons (i.e. to harm Google's ad revenue).

  • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:01AM (#41547919)

    It'll be ignored because if the majority of people fall into the category of benefiting from tracking

    Since that isn't true, the rest does not follow.

    For once I agree with Microsoft that WE DO NOT BENEFIT FROM TRACKING.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:13AM (#41548049)

    But it occurs to me that Microsoft own Bing, which (like any search engine) is paid for through advertising. And if the advertising can be tightly targeted, it's possible to charge a lot more for it. It follows that at least one business unit within Microsoft wants Do Not Track to be a complete disaster.

    You don't understand what's going on in business. Google is the big advertising monster, the 800+ lb gorilla of advertising. In order to keep their advertising business running, they do their best to throw spanners in the works for anyone big enough to possibly muscle in. Thats' why you have "Google+" fighting Facebook. That's why you have Google apps fighting Microsoft. That's why you have Android fighting Apple. None if these are there to make money for Google, they are all there for the sole purpose of hurting big IT companies who might hurt Google's advertising business.

    And that's what Bing is for, not to make money, but to hurt Google. That's why Apple isn't using Google Maps anymore, to take money away from Google. So no, Microsoft is absolutely happy with Do Not Track and anything that makes advertisers pay less money to Google.

  • by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:25AM (#41548163)

    Its not a crime to ignore the DNT flag. AND, there can never be a law to make it a crime, as microsoft actions have made DNT not a true indicator of a users preference.

  • by crtreece ( 59298 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:37AM (#41548287) Homepage

    Ideally, it would be illegal for people to own bank accounts or liquid cash and everyone would basically spend their paycheck within a few days of getting it.

    Close, but not far enough. The economy would benefit even more if you didn't even get the dollars in the first place. Instead, you get credit that can be used to buy products from your employer and their official partners.

    This way the company keeps all the dollars, and can use them to improve their products and services without having to show a labor cost on the balance sheet. Usage of the credits is easily tracked by the employer and partners, and the black market for drugs, hookers, gambling, or anything else that requires cash is exterminated. Everybody wins!

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:40AM (#41548333)
    Not a crime no, but is still a pretty sleazy move.

    I am not sure I agree with people who are saying that turning it on by default is not a 'true indicator of user preference' since, after having tracking explained to them, users generally are against it. So it could be argued that having 'do not track' as a default setting is more representative then having 'tracking is fine with me' be the default.
  • by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @09:48AM (#41548423) Homepage Journal

    Exactly how would this be a detriment to the users?

    It undermines the purpose of the header. Consider those places where websites are legally or morally obliged to respect any user who actively asks not to be tracked. A website in such a place would have been obliged to respect the header. But by enabling that header by default, Microsoft is undermining that obligation. When the header no longer means that the user has actively asked not to be tracked, then we cannot expect websites to treat it as such. And then we are back to a situation where users have no way of indicating, that they do not want to be tracked.

    Actually I think there should have been three possible values for that header. User has opted in, user has opted out, and user has not taken initiative to change anything on his own. That would leave the default choice up to the websites, which I consider better than leaving the default choice up to the browser vendor. But more importantly, it would have made the semantics of the header slightly more clear than a boolean. And by making it possible for websites to really implement either opt-in or opt-out, then we can start pushing for sites to do one or the other. With only a boolean header and browsers behaving differently, you can't even draw a line between sites implementing opt-in and those implementing opt-out.

    But ultimately, this header is just an attempt at patching over a model, which is fundamentally broken in the first place. Cookies were too easy to set when first introduced. Browsers were not working in the best interest of the user. Websites have been allowed to abuse cookies in ways that were not in the users' interest for far too long. By now any browser trying to serve the user better will end up providing users with a bad user experience because of many sites breaking. Had browsers been more restrictive in the first place, then sites wouldn't have been using cookies in the ways they do now.

    Let's face it. Nothing is going to change unless Google, Microsoft and Mozilla can agree to move together. Because they each have such large fractions of the browser market. If they can agree on a new model, which works in the user's interest and is enforceable by the browser, then things will change.

  • by Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:20AM (#41548781) Journal

    I disagree. I think it most certainly does apply to the Internet. If I choose to disallow Javascript from running on my browser, or I choose not to load certain images, that's my right. Nobody has the right to force my computer to follow instructions that I dislike. This is especially true on the Internet. This kind of attitude was very popular up until the rapid commercialization of the Internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it became subversive (and downright unpatriotic) to assert that these rights exist.

    I don't know about you guys, but I always hated how traditional mass media was completely passive and out of my control. Even with the telephone and physical mail, I was pretty much locked out of having any kind of say. Don't want to receive sales calls at dinner time? Too bad. However, now that I finally have some say in the matter, I'm going to passively sat there while my privacy is violated, CPU time is hijacked, and my storage space is wasted. Obviously, it's the principle of the matter, because none of these are actually all that important. However, I'll be damned if I'm going to give up even 0.1% of my CPU time to some jerkoff marketing guy -- the same guy who thinks it's his God-given right to call me at dinner time, fill up my mailbox, and plaster the wilderness with crass advertisements.

    For every guy like me, there's ten that doesn't give a shit about any of this stuff. They'd sell out their neighbors' privacy for a coupon or free gift. I'm no threat to corporate America. Just leave me alone, and I'll keep my anarchist ranting limited to indignant posts on obscure web sites. Piss me off, and you'll just motivate me to break through my apathy and became more extreme. Hell, I might even vote, if you push me far enough.

  • by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:30AM (#41548893)
    DNT should be the automatic default on all browsers. EVERYTHING should be opt-in rather than opt-out. Only sleazy marketing scum think otherwise
  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:31AM (#41548907)

    "Its not a crime to ignore the DNT flag"

    That depends on whether he was speaking literally or figuratively. I immediately recognized (assumed) that tonywestonuk was speaking figuratively, in which case he is right, but if he was speaking literally (as you apparently assume) then you are right.

    "there can never be a law to make it a crime"

    Are you speaking literally or figuratively? Of course, literally speaking, there could easily be a law to make it a crime.

    "microsoft actions have made DNT not a true indicator of a users preference."

    I'd like to know how you came to this conclusion. It seems to me that almost everyone would prefer the setting and thus Microsoft's actions have set the default setting according to the majority of the actual user preference. Similarly, Microsoft also has anti-spam featured turned on automatically in its email systems based on the assumption that people don't want to receive spam. Would you decry that as a violation of "true" user preference?

    Personally I am shocked that Microsoft is taking this action. It's the number-one most consumer-friendly thing I've ever heard of them doing -- literally.

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @10:33AM (#41548945)

    So it could be argued that having 'do not track' as a default setting is more representative ...

    It should be argued!

    It just goes to show how out of step we supposedly knowlegeable users are from the web as it is today. Apache, et al, believe it it's an advertising vehicle and that's the way it's supposed to be because a lot of the web is driven by advertising.

    The web was not designed to enable advertising. It was designed to disseminate information easily.

    This is about the first time I find myself defending Microsoft in decades. They got this right. Apache and its ilk should ask the users whether they "wish to see a richer, more personalized web experience by enabling the sending of the user's personal web surfing history to select websites" if they want this.
      DNT should be the default. WTF do they think DNT means, ffs?!? It means we don't like it to be a surveillance based society by default!

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:01AM (#41549231)

    ... its a means of communicate a very specific decision on the part of the user ...

    And why is it wrong for that very specific decision to be to enable tracking?

    Because you think the web is for advertising as that's where your bread and butter is. You live by page views and banner ads and Google ranking.

    I think Apache has set the evil bit here because that's where the vast majority of its user base lies. I don't particularly care what sort of mishmash you people believe the DNT standard is supposed to be. Think back to the initial concept. "Say, some people don't like all this ubiquitous tracking. Maybe we ought to come up with something that users can do about it?" You see that as a threat to your bread and butter, and now you're bitching about someone deciding that maybe all that tracking ought to be opt-in.

    I spent years crafting a web page to disseminate things I learned to anyone who wanted to read it. It had no ads, tracked no-one, was appreciated by many, and that's how the web was intended to work.

    Now, it's been leveraged and taken over by advertisers who believe it's their personal fiefdom.

    You're evil on this one.

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @11:54AM (#41549831)

    Right on. I ran out of Mod points or you would be getting one from me for that post. Since when is using the internet an implicit agreement to track my every move? If others don't mind then fine but I want to have the choice and the default option should always be opt out unless I specify otherwise. Microsoft did get it right here and I hope that the other browsers follow suit. I'm not the biggest MS fan either but I give them credit where credit is due.

  • by eugene ts wong ( 231154 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @12:31PM (#41550295) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I can't believe that anybody is bothering to defend Apache. They deserve no support in this. Either way, some users will be too lazy to switch. Therefore, the default setting should be in the best interests, and/or preferences of the user.

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @12:47PM (#41550493)

    Yeah, I can't believe that anybody is bothering to defend Apache.

    Those defending Apache are their userbase; those running websites. This was never about what us mere web users wanted.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:00PM (#41551945)
    *shrug* the internet did just fine before advertizes started using it for their own purposes. I suspect that if ad revenue went down things would be fine.

    Besides, we are talking about one additional (and kinda creepy) metric, not stopping advertizing. They can still place ads, they can still place community specific ads on community specific sites (kinda like how, I don't know, most targeted advertizing is done).. it would simply make it so they could not target ads based off other sites you have previously visited. I doubt ad revenue would actually go down, though they might have to do a little more *gasp* work....
  • by gorzek ( 647352 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:04PM (#41552003) Homepage Journal

    It's well-known that whether you make a system opt-in or opt-out, the vast majority will stick with whatever is the default, because they don't want to be bothered with such details.

    Advertisers want an opt-in DNT because they know most people won't bother to turn it on. An opt-out DNT means most people will leave it on, because they probably won't even know about it to turn it off (assuming they'd want to.)

  • by jimshatt ( 1002452 ) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @03:05PM (#41552025)
    Well tracking is about a little more than just visiting a server. Because visiting a *site* usually ends up in you accessing lots of servers. So while visiting multiple sites, you create sessions with these servers that now know what sites you like to visit. It's not just about being tracked on a site people have problems with, it's being tracked *across* sites.

    The problem is that it's not as easy as it sounds to "quickly leave that site". Of course one could block the servers that track you, which is what many of us are doing. Or you could politely ask them not to track you by sending a DNT header.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe