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In an effort to reclaim lost users, Microsoft enables their “Do Not Track” feature by default.
Microsoft is working to regain its lost web browser usage share with the release of Internet Explorer 10, which launched in August of this year. Over the last three years, IE has gradually fallen from a 70% usage rate among Internet users to just 22%, with competitors like Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, and mobile browsers picking up the slack.
One of the new features of IE10 is its Do Not Track (DNT) option. It’s designed to prevent third-party online advertisers from tracking your browsing habits and then delivering tailored advertisements on the sites that you visit. This option is actually a part of most current browsers versions, but the controversy around Internet Explorer is that this DNT signal is enabled by default. There are varying opinions on its efficacy, and whether or not this feature is just a stunt to give users the illusion of privacy. And apparently it’s easy to ignore, since Yahoo will not accept or honor IE10’s Do Not Track flags, according to CIO.com. In a recent policy blog, Yahoo stated, “the DNT signal from IE10 doesn’t express user intent,” and that such a feature is “signal abuse.” So they are just going to ignore it.
On the surface, this seems like the National Do Not Call Registry. When you sign up, solicitors aren’t supposed to call you. If they still call your phone, then they can be penalized. The registry can’t prevent the calls from happening, but there is good reason for solicitors to not call. DNT, however, has no such incentive for compliance. If Internet pioneers like Yahoo can just decide to disregard it without penalty, then what’s to stop less honest sites from doing the same? They don’t care if you don’t want to be tracked. Unless there is some kind of incentive in place for compliance, it’s not liable to stop advertisers from gathering information about your browsing activity. Whether this feature will lead to increased usage for IE10 remains to be seen.