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back to article Advertisers slam Microsoft over 'Do not track' decision

Microsoft's decision to enable the "Do not track" feature by default in Internet Explorer 10 should please privacy advocates, but it has sparked condemnation from the online advertising industry. Microsoft made the announcement on IE10 with the release of the (probably) final beta for Windows 8 on Thursday, and Brendon Lynch, …

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Anonymous Coward

Translation:

See those guys? Those guys over there with the phone OS that's way more popular than we can ever make one?

Yeah, we're better than them, we are. Never mind the tracking that we won't tell you about, never mind disguising WGA as a security update, never mind holding entire industries hostage, never mind the other bastardry we get up to, looksee, we enabled DoNotTrack!

A nice thing to do, just a shame about the reasons. They'll revert back to being just as awful as Google, Facebook and Apple just as soon as the whole "privacy" thing blows over. It's like watching politicians at work, really.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a start..... Can we do the same for all advertising, especially the text ads, phone calls, spam emails.....

Will the 'do not track' have any impact? Only if they follow the rules which they generally don't.

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Re: Translation:

all that will happen with adverts when IE10 is detected it will ignore the DO Not Track flag on that Browser due to MS screwing the advertisers up

if other browsers are detected and the Flag is set to Do Not Track will work normally (as the User Opted to not be tracked not the Hole company MS made them choose for them)

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I guess...

Microsoft was faced with the decision:

- Anger the advertisers (a few of us)

- Anger the rest of the world's Internet-using population (the rest of us)

Don't know about others around here, but I think I'd sooner anger the former (smaller) group than anger the latter (larger) group. Good on them for standing up to principles on this issue. Now if we can just sort out a few other issues that have been bothering us about Redmond...

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Anonymous Coward

Principles?

It's nothing to do with principles. Anything that hurts the paid-by-advertising model makes Microsoft happy.

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Re: I guess...

Most of the internet-using population don't understand or care about such issues...

The few that do will simply enable do-not-track if the option exists.

If this is the default, then you will see more advertisers simply ignoring it, therefore screwing the privacy conscious and maintaining the status quo for everyone else.

Advertisers don't really care about the handful of privacy conscious people who most likely would have already been taking other steps anyway. These people were never going to buy any of the products they advertised, and serving ads to them just wastes bandwidth.

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Meh

Re: I guess...

A nice idea Stewart but the advertising executives move around in the same, suit wearing, ivory tower complex as the MS executives. They went to the same colleges and send their kids to the same schools. They know that anything they can be spun to whatever meaning they want..

Despite our feeling that this is a good thing, most people will either not care, or forget it following the next "real news" about some celebrity getting more photographic exposure than she had planned or a conveniently released foiling of a supposed terrorist activity.

This may more likely mean that "do not track" will be getting some deliberate holes or just becoming completely infective.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I guess...

BUT do Google advertise?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I guess...

So you're saying that advertisers are scum, their "self-regulatory" system is a sham, and that their approach to privacy is to give people the option to be unmonitored, provided that almost no-one enables this setting? Further, your solution to this problem is to let them do what they want to the masses because this will stop them invading the privacy of a few people.

It sounds to me that what we actually need is laws on the statute books to prevent these people invading other people's privacy when they feel like it to support their business model, since it appears that we can't trust them to self-regulate?

Finally, what's the problem with adding another screen to the list of settings that we have to wade through whenever a new version of a browser is installed and let the people themselves decide if they want to disable Do Not Track? Giving people a choice (with sensible defaults pre-selected) seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

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Re: I guess...

Who are you going to get to pass those laws? The same politicians who are already bought by the suits?

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What is the betting an update turns it off, by accident of course. Once they have had their good publicity and it has been shipping in the new OS.

This is a ploy not a major win for privacy.

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You have no evidence of that. This is a good thing. And it's a smart thing. MS make their money by selling software. They have a sideline in advertising via Bing, but it's barely a toe in the water just for the sake of not letting themselves be fenced in or at the mercy of other companies. Whereas for Google it's almost their entire business model. So by doing this they simultaneously do three things: They please their customers (more of us care about our privacy than you might think and privacy is in the news often enough). They draw a clear line between themselves and other companies - pay up front with us, or pay via your personal details with others. And they hamstring their competitors in an ethical and perfectly legal way by siding with their customers' interests rather than Google and others that sell the online behaviour information.

All good solid reasons to do this and yet to see the reactions of some here, you'd think MS had done a bad thing. Oh yes, of course they have - they've done something that is good for the customers and can't easily be criticized for. That actually is a bad thing I suppose if you're someone who always seeks ways to condemn MS in everything they do.

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Could it be?

Microsoft making a decision that *helps* their users?

I've no doubt that their motives are more related to stopping the slide away from IE at a consumer level, and that customer "choices" or "privacy" rates very low on their agenda - but I have to admit that they're making a fairly bold move by pissing off the people who help monetise the platform.

As for the Advertising Alliance - Fuck off. Trying to pass off ads that know who I am, where I am and what I'm doing as a method of "improving my experience" doesn't wash - it simply makes me wonder how much (or how little) payment your members would accept to sell that data off to a third party...

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Re: Could it be?

"Microsoft making a decision that *helps* their users?"

Microsoft making a decision that hurts A Certain Other Company That Competes With Them And Makes Bazillions Of Dollars From Online Advertising, more likely.

Color me cynical, but when ANY large company makes a decision, I say, follow the money. In this case, hurting That Other Company's revenue stream is clearly in the interests of Microsoft; the interests of their users are, I rather suspect, quite secondary.

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Re: Could it be?

@Franklin, and this is a bad thing in this case?

Microsoft has been publicly polarizing itself towards privacy in response to Google's blatant disregard for it. Simple competitive positioning. Look at the Microsoft videos that slam Google with the "Gmail Man" videos. I recently saw a picture of a billboard advertising Office 365 that touted the fact that they don't index your mail. I mean IMHO this is just a basic customer expectation from a GRC standpoint, yet because a major vendor unscrupulously does, Microsoft turns it into a competitive advantage.

I would say I support Microsoft's unsurprising decision to support and attempt to protect its own end user paid licensing customer base from unrestricted and unfettered access from advertisers. If they want to pick up the privacy advocacy cause then I am not opposed.

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Re: Could it be?

Franklin - of course you're right, but I see no reason why that makes their decision a bad thing for their customers. Something about gift horses and mouths.

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Whilst only the dimmest and deluded can't see through the MS veneer it is still good to see anyone pissing off advertisers, no matter who.

I also enjoy the smugness of the posters above in their unsafe, watched states decrying everything else like shoving fingers in their ears makes everything fine, they're even worse than the people who think this is anything but PR.

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Software Company

Microsoft is a software company, and it certainly is reasonable for it to design its products in such a way so as to best serve its customers.

This is why laws (or at least clauses in patent licenses) are needed to prevent DVD players and TV sets from unscrambling the encryption on content in order to allow it to be recorded freely, for that matter.

But I don't think that advertisers will get what they want through a law.

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Re: Software Company

Microsoft doesn't care about best serving its customers, it is solely concerned with best serving its own ruthless goals... Occasionally these two aims line up, but often not.

Laws to prevent DVD/TV sets from descrambling and recording content on the other hand are stupid. All that does, is get in the way of legitimate users who want to exercise fair use, for example.

Recording a show to watch later, possibly on another (eg mobile) device (i regularly watch tv shows i recorded the night before on my laptop, tablet or phone while commuting to work on the train).

Backing up your DVDs so you don't damage the original (especially useful if you have kids who like to damage media - when i was a kid, my mother made copies of tapes and kept the originals incase i destroyed the copies).

What it doesn't stop is organised piracy, they will rapidly work out how to crack any encryption scheme, and considering they are already breaking the law by distributing the work in the first place, additionally breaking a law against descrambling content doesn't bother them in the slightest.

In fact, such scrambling schemes often increase piracy because the pirate copies come with less limitations and are therefore superior products.

And while such schemes might initially decrease "casual piracy", that is things like kids sharing copies with their friends, all it really does is encourage them to obtain proper pirate copies as their source material so that they *can* share with friends again.

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Re: Software Company

"Microsoft doesn't care about best serving its customers, it is solely concerned with best serving its own ruthless goals... Occasionally these two aims line up, but often not."

This applies to any corporation, not just Microsoft, not just Apple, not just Google, etc. While it is wise to remember that these corporations are not our special friends, at the same time that is no reason not to take advantage of the times when their aims and ours *do* line up.

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Pint

Why worry about microsoft? They're about to commit suicide.

Or have you missed all the Metro shite they're about to shove in everyones face?

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Re: Why worry about microsoft? They're about to commit suicide.

What is with everyone thinking that Metro is going to kill Windows? Well, really its only a few people, every normal user, and quite a few admins, I've talked to like the Metro interface, especially the Hell Desk drones.

The users get a simple interface that doesn't confuse and the Phone Jockeys have an easier time working with users calling up since now its "Click the big green square, rather than OK, Go to the start menu, no the other button, ugh, I'll be down in 5 minutes...".

As for the Admins, they just use PowerShell all day and periodically hit the Windows Key to bring up the Metro interface to check their messages and tickets since they show up as numbers on the tiles.

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Facepalm

Advertisers = Lawful Good

"The DAA told the Wall Street Journal that the industry representatives and government had agreed that the advertising world would regulate itself "

Yeah - businesses regulating themselves - that always works out well!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advertisers = Lawful Good

If I were being kind, I'd say most businesses and most governments are either Lawful/Neutral or True/Neutral with lawful they will always follow the law and they will tend to work in the interest of the greater good while placing their own needs slightly higher than others, in the case of True/Neutral they will break laws where required or work to their own principles instead of the law to achieve the same (tending towards the "greater good" while looking out for number one.)

If I were to be less kind, I'd say most are either Lawful Evil, or Neutral Evil, Lawful Evil tending to look for ways to manipulate holes in the law (loop holes / the word vs the spirit) while looking to maximise benefit for themselves, damn everyone else. Neutral Evil will break laws where it seems fit to do so.

As we all know the most dangerous enemy is the Lawful Evil enemy for a long term campaign as they're the ones who'll set plans in motion that may take a great many game years to come to fruit.

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Use of "Lawful" in this context - a clarification

"Lawful" in this context (its Dungeons & Dragons meaning, that is) doesn't necessarily mean "acting in accordance with the law". A "Lawful" entity - as opposed to a "Chaotic" one - is simply an entity that follows a set of principles or code of honour, not necessarily the same ones as the laws of the land.

For example, a Thief steals from people, thus breaking the law, but obeys the rules and principles of the Guild of Thieves, thereby being a Lawful character even while being a criminal. This is why you can have "Lawful-Good" and "Lawful-Evil".

By contrast, a Chaotic character acts impulsively, without recourse to a guiding code or set of principles, whereby you might have the bumbling, clumsy-but-means-well cleric (Chaotic-Good) or the rampaging, destroying demon (Chaotic Evil).

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Stop

MS has a tendency to do "good stuff" these days

I'm not surprised with this move and although I'll admit to have some bias (a LOT (seriously) is being eaten away with the monstrosity called Win8) I do think we need to give MS credit here.

A few weeks back a friend of mine using an iPhone came over. I have a Windows Phone. We both claim to have an interest in privacy concerns and as such I was wondering if his iPhone really did only do stuff opt-out. Which it did. Some options were even so deeply burried that he never managed to find them.

In strict contrast; my Windows Phone doesn't collect nor send back /any/ data unless I want it to. By default most data collection options are defaulted to "off" even though MS would probably benefit if I'd turn them on. Others are important enough to raise the question to me but in general; MS leaves the choice to the user.

And I think that does them some credit.

Don't get me wrong here.... I can also see where it comes from. Lets be honest here; MS needs all the credit they can get. Only one hour in the Win8 release preview and its driving me completely NUTS.

So I have an mp3 on the network (so easy to get to that, NOT). I double click it and as can be expected a metro app appears playing my music. Ok...

So now I want to turn down the volume... Where the FUCK is the volume control? THERE IS NONE!

Sure, if you manage to charm the pos you'll get to the settings and from there can eventually turn down the overall volume. But that's not the point!

I have a Metro music player without so much as a volume control. How on earth can anyone call this user friendly?

SO I start a lot of apps. Eventually Music disappears from my list. So now I have music playing without any means to stop, pause or skip it. Apart from going to the start screen again, re-starting music from there and only then....

I'm getting a headache here.

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RE: Music

I can't find a volume control on the App either. It does have "preview" written across it, but anyway... I was able to change the volume in two ways. On my laptop, it has a volume slider at the top (imagine it's the same if the keyboard has volume buttons). Sliding this up and down immediately displayed the volume on screen and changed the volume of the MP3. The other way I found was to slide the mouse to the right and click on Settings on the Charm menu and there is a volume control right in front of me. More or less just like how I go to the bottom left to click on the volume control in Windows 7. It seems that the App just uses whatever the general volume setting is rather than having its own. I suppose that is simpler.

Anyway, my first reaction to Metro was absolute horror. My second reaction, where I really tried, was also horror. Then I tried with the latest preview and suddenly I found it wasn't too bad. Don't know if you will have a similar change or heart or not. All I know was that I was getting as frustrated as you were last week and now I'm not. I want Word? I hit the Windows key, press 'w' and then 'enter' to select it. I'm immediately back in the desktop and it's about the same speed or quicker as using the Start menu. The full screen Apps I just flip back to the Desktop and it makes no difference (MP3 keeps playing) though I can see how it could. E.g. if you like to have the name of what's playing or where you are in a track on the desktop. But keep in mind that's just the MP3 player that came with it (and a beta at that). You can still stick VLC or whatever you want on it as you could with Windows 7.

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Right

These advertisers with there flash cookies, zombie cookies, and every thing else they do to track people who clearly don't want to be tracked are going to stop because of a do not track setting?

At best they will change the name (no we are not tracking you... we are following you, totally different).

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Re: Right

"At best they will change the name (no we are not tracking you... we are following you, totally different)."

Both methods can be summed up in one word: Stalking.

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Paris Hilton

Brea in mind, this *is* just a release preview

I'm inclined to think that by release time, Microsoft will have IE10 do a first-use configuration like IE8 and IE9 do.

Paris, one less irritating than the other.

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Re: Brea in mind, this *is* just a release preview

Brea indeed. It's a tar-pit ... once you get stuck, you're stuck.

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Do Not Track...

Wait, is this the one that doesn't work?

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Do not track is not the law

As the article itself pointed out, advertisers agreed to honor 'do not track' as long as it was not the default setting in browsers. If Microsoft makes it the default, they have broken that agreement. I can't imagine that advertisers will feel any compulsion to hold up their end of the bargain if Microsoft doesn't.

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Re: Do not track is not the law

Do not track is not the law

You forgot to say where it is the law. In the EU the law is that people must opt-in to being tracked. Microsoft is only being sensible by helping users and webmasters as, EU law tends to be adopted in other countries, see the browsers selection screen.

* Onto the meaty parts: self-regulation of advertisers. Yeah, that works well. Might as well let the banks regulate themselves...

* Do not track is conceptually flawed as it does not actually enforce the setting. Until there are actual cases and judgements advertisers and stalkers will be free to do as they please.

* The whole tracking discussion is a red herring to distract people from the real identity trade. Users logged into the favourite service (eg. Facebook, Google, Windows Live, Twitter) then these services have the user's informed consent to track them across the interwebs. Google already has doubleclick, expect the competition to buy of create their own advertising arms to take advantage of this situation. Though, to be honest the value of such highly targeted advertising is questionable. More money is going to be made on the detailed personal profiles that the identity traders will be able to offer: this guy not only visits El Reg but also lovelyfuffysheep.com, regularly exceeds the speed limit, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not track is not the law

Microsoft has always violated the RFCs. Remember IE6? sure Microsoft could make it the default and the advertisers are free to track IE users all they want, but what if MS includes ghostery code just to make sure that no tracking whatsoever is taking place?

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sparked condemnation from the online advertising industry.

good!

fuck em

and the horse they rode in on.

so M$ that restores the karma for windows ME

now about vista.......

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Re: sparked condemnation from the online advertising industry.

The 1990's called, they want their M$ definition for Microsoft back.

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Advertising?

What is this thing you call "advertising"?

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"a conscious choice to share information in order to receive more personalized ad content

Dear advertisers: It was your concious choice to (ab)use available technology to not only track users, but to devise measures that would render regular cookie management ineffective. You didn't ask me if I agree to tracking. You didn't say who you are, where you are, what data is held, why, and what you plan to do with it. You didn't give me an opt-out until it became legally difficult not to. Now you're bitching because the default option of one of the mainstream browsers is to insist upon you not tracking, though I would imagine you'll try to find a way to ignore this anyway... Then the adverts got bigger. Animated. And with sound. Who decided that it would be a great idea to piss away bandwidth on a video for something I would never want on a page that isn't even related to the topic of the advert? Oh, you want to track me for more applicable advertising? How about this - STFUAD.

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WTF?

Dear advertiser

Why should I pay your bandwidth costs to deliver messages to me that I don't want to see?

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Good on Microsoft... seriously online advertisement can go to hell. They dug their own graves, anyone else remember the days of popups by the dozens? popunders? etc. before Adblock/etc came around?

Yeah I remember it, so screw advertisers, they were the ones that started the war with their ever intrusive bullshit, they can live with the hate.

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Anonymous Coward

Errm did you not understand the article.

Because Microsoft defaulted to on, they broke the agreement, and now advertisers simply will just ignore the DNT header.

How is that "Good on Microsoft"?

You might was well not have it in any browser now. Thanks Microsoft you stupid fuckers.

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Re: Errm did you not understand the article.

And that's a good thing, they ignore the header and people will start getting even more pissed off, and eventually the law makers will realise that hey they might be getting "contributions" from ad makers, but the annoyed people actually matter more...

No half measures, no compromises, advertisers need to realise that they've angered people to such a point where they are the ones that need to be bowing and scraping, not anyone else.

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Re: You might was well not have it in any browser now.

That was always the case. Any scheme that isn't wholly enforceable by the browser regardless of the wishes or level of co-operation from the advertisers, is not worth having. In fact, since it probably reduces the pressure to come up with a *real* solution, it is actively harmful.

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Re: Errm did you not understand the article.

"Because Microsoft defaulted to on, they broke the agreement, and now advertisers simply will just ignore the DNT header."

So basically, it's better to have rights on the understanding that we don't use them, than to try to use those rights and risk losing them. How about we agree that Judith has the *right* to have a baby, even though she can't actually have one?

It's good to have this done. It's an expression that we do not wish to be tracked. If that is ignored, then maybe we can get some real laws in place on the subject. Seems to me that if we can't use our Do Not Track option, then it's not worth much. And I don't like a solution that lets everyone else be tracked just so advertisers aren't provoked into challenging my privacy. It's both selfish and it normalizes intrusion which long-term makes it harder for anyone to object to it including us.

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Meh

Re: Errm did you not understand the article.

I call 'Shill'

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Vic
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Re: Errm did you not understand the article.

> How about we agree that Judith has the *right* to have a baby, even though

> she can't actually have one?

Judith can. It's Loretta that can't...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Seriously, see no problem with this

I just want to be sure that the feature will be obeyed by all. This, I have very high doubts about. Eg, what about your browser or your OS? Surely they MUST keep track of your settings, and of a host of other things, just to work properly, right? What will happen when companies inevitably disagree on what is fair game to track or not?

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Anonymous Coward

DNT - now rendered useless

"industry representatives and government had agreed that the advertising world would regulate itself and honor "Do not track", so long as browser manufacturers didn't make it a default setting"

So now it's on by default in IE10, the rules have been broken, and websites are free to totally ignore the DNT header and just track regardless.

Thanks Microsoft you fucked it up not just for IE users, but Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari users.

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Re: DNT - now rendered useless

Not a MS problem, unless you hate them so much you decide they are evil whether they enable it or not. They problem is voluntary agreements, a bit like media / press professional standards agreements, are so with riddled with loopholes as to be meaningless.

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