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back to article Top admen beg Microsoft to switch off 'Do Not Track' in IE 10

Microsoft is in hot water with big-brand advertisers over its implementation of Do-Not-Track by default in the latest iteration of its Internet Explorer browser. The ad-slingers say Internet Explorer 10’s Do-Not-Track feature will hurt advertisers, consumers and competition. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has …

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Or Conversly...

If Microsoft moves forward with this default setting, it will help its customers by reducing advertising and, as a result, drastically improve the online experience by reducing the junk Internet content and offerings that such advertising supports. This result will improve consumers experience, improve privacy, and demonstrate American innovation and leadership in the internet economy.

No contest.

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It won't help

The companies will just ignore it. Like they were probably going to do anyway.

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"...it will help its customers by reducing advertising..."

No. It won't. DNT is not intended to reduce the amount of adverts, just what those adverts might be; it's "Do not Track", not "Do not Advertise."

All they're complaining about is the fact that they're supposed to promise not to track their viewers; not that some of the advertisers are honouring the DNT to begin with.

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It will not reduce advertising at all. It will simply eat into the more profitable data harvesting the ad giants do on a regular basis *IF* said ad giants actually keep their promise to honour that tag.

But seriously, advertisers complaining about how a privacy setting would eat into their profits. Really says enough on how much foot-wiping they already have done on peoples' privacy already.

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Devil

>>> This result will improve consumers experience, improve privacy, and demonstrate American innovation and leadership in the internet economy.

You're right, a "please don't fuck me over" scrap of data added to a client header which a vast number of webmasters will just treat with mild bemusement, not to mention all the Apache servers that will ignore it completely, will totally do that. Hell why didn't they do it earlier.

Idiot.

The "admen" are correct in saying that a default setting of on is completely counter-productive. Obviously you would, as a webmaster, now ignore all MSIE settings of the header, because it has been made totally meaningless.

It always was destined to be ignored though. Unless it is regulated, why would any webmaster implement it? The notion is bizarre. If you don't want to be "tracked", maybe try configuring your browser so it doesn't enthusiastically cooperate. After all, it is your own software that provides the relevant data. Asking the server to do it for you because you're too thick to take responsibility for yourself is ridiculous - and a false security as the real problem causers, the spammers et al, will definitely ignore your plaintive little header.

GET /butthole-pirates-tracker-ad.swf HTTP/1.1

Host: www.you-safe-with-us-honest.ru

Cookie: lolz=schmuck_number_69; interests=gay_porn

If-Modified-Since: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 01:23:45 GMT

DNT: 1

You do realize that your browser, any browser, including MSIE 10, would happily send the above headers? And how utterly fucking stupid that situation would be?

Give me a break.

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You say this is useless without regulation. If we don't build such a system, then it cannot be regulated and lawmakers will have circles run around them by the advertising agencies.

As to your comment about people being too thick to prevent tracking themselves, that's akin to saying people who aren't tough enough to defend themselves don't deserve protection from assault. The aim is to protect anyone who wants protection, not to selfishly say: "I know how to install various blockers, so everyone else can just do without protection against tracking." If you go to the trouble of blocking it yourself, then you must think it's got a negative to attached to it. So why shouldn't other people be protected from that negative?

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Paris Hilton

No method of compliance checking

Unlike a phone call which clearly informs you who is honoring the "Do Not Call" list, there is (currently) no way for the end user to determine whether or not a web site is honoring your "Do Not Track" request. Once such a mechanism is in place, or some individual or investigative journalist sets out to make these determinations, said violators can be publicly shamed.

But the real question is, will they (the violators) care? The answer is, in all likelihood, a resounding NO. At least unless someone or a group of someones can prove damages and therefore sue the violators. I believe this is due to a large number of consumers having given in to the warped sense of commerce which tells them that the lowest price or best discount, irrespective of the reputation of the entity providing the offer, is the one to choose. In corollary, a smaller number of people -- which do exist, just in comparatively smaller numbers -- genuinely vote with their dollars and will pay a higher amount if it means not dealing with shady characters.

Paris, violating the violator.

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Not quite

It won't reduce advertising, what it might reduce is the sort of adverts that say "you looked at this pair of shoes in xyz shop and didn't buy them. Why don't you come back and buy them now?"

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Megaphone

@The BigYin Re: "It won't help....The companies will just ignore it...."

Indeed, that is precisely what they will likely do. However, that will also result in them placing themselves right in the spotlight, hmm? I agree that Redmond's move will not in and of itself change the situation (in practice) but it does in fact put the cross-hairs in the political sense squarely on the backs of the companies concerned. No, I do not see MS as any big hero here but they have IMO, for whatever reason, made the right move. The reason why these companies are protesting like fuck despite the fact, as has been pointed out, it has no enforceability is precisely because this move by "The Great Satan" has in fact (no doubt for their own reasons) put those buggers right on the spot.

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Anonymous Coward

>Obviously you would, as a webmaster, now ignore all MSIE settings of the header, because it has been made totally meaningless.

Doesn't follow at all - and I find it very hard to imagine most people don't want privacy by default.....children have a legal entitlement to it in the US & UK, but the not the competancy (legally) to make the determination for instance.

There's a surprising mass of currently unenforced legislation in the UK when it comes to your storage and use of private/tracking information for a number of groups - children, sick people, mentally impaired or learning disabled (getting on for a third of the population). You're defenceless if you're ignoring requests for privacy, default set or otherwise.

[By unenforced legislation, I mean stuff like Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, there's plenty of action in Data Protection etc currently, but Webmasters don't get jail time for that].

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Not really...

"it will help its customers by reducing advertising" ---- No it wont, its 'do not track' - that isnt a filter for adverts, you'll need AdBlock or something similar.

"drastically improve the online experience by reducing the junk Internet content and offerings that such advertising supports" ---- No, see above.

"This result will improve consumers experience" --- not sure how as tracking is fairly transparent

"improve privacy" ----- possibly but I'm sure the trackers will find another way.

"and demonstrate American innovation and leadership in the internet economy" --- Vomit

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Re: Not really...

How about MS capitulate and don't give the option in the set up, but when you start IE up pops a box explaining what DNT actually does, what it means for the users privacy and a box saying "Allow websites to track me" and "Turn on the DNT feature". It would give users the freedom to pick which box they would like to choose, I'm going with around 100% of people who work in the advertising business will switch it ON, along with 98.412% of everyone else.

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Re: Not really...

That's basicly what they do, except they do it the first time you load the OS. The exact wording of the box in question is:

"Settings

Express settings

You can customize the following settings or choose express settings. If you choose express settings, your PC will occasionally send info to Microsoft and will:

* Automatically install important and recommended updates.

* Help protect your PC from unsafe files and websites.

* Turn on Do Not Track in Internet Explorer.

* Help improve Microsoft software, services, and location services by sending us info.

* Check online for solutions to problems.

* Let apps give you personalized content based on your PC's location, name, and account picture.

* Turn on sharing and connect to devices on this network.

Learn more about express settings

Privacy statement

[Use express settings] [customize]"

Seems pretty obvious that if I hit "express' it's going to turn on DNT.

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why his post was liked so much, advertisers are just going to ignore the DNT flag if IE10 is detected as it has an incorrect DNT default on setting, Apache has all ready added it to there ignore list (other browsers are not affected and the DNT will work as intended )

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Re: Not really...

@Oninoshiko

no normal person reads that (they just press next and finish to make it go away) so its on by default user does not understand why or what it is

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"why his post was liked so much, advertisers are just going to ignore the DNT flag if IE10 is detected as it has an incorrect DNT default on setting, Apache has all ready added it to there ignore list (other browsers are not affected and the DNT will work as intended )"

Both your statements are factually incorrect. Firstly, IE10's "default". Firefox has a default - you install it and it has DNT off and if you want to change that you have to go into the config and find the setting and change it. What IE10 does is present suggested settings on install to the user. DNT is one of these and it's right in the user's face with an explanation of what it is and a suggested setting of "On". It's compliant and the working group know that it's compliant and are seething about it. Believe me - if they could call it a "default" and kick IE10 out as non-compliant, they would love to. But it's actually presenting the user with the choice and they can't.

Secondly and more significantly, your comment about "Apache has already added it to their ignore list" is massively misinformed. Roy Fielding, one of the Apache team whose employer is Adobe (a company with a vested interest) and who is a member of the DNT working group (so hardly neutral in this), took it upon himself to submit a patch that erased DNT headers from IE10 and he submitted this patch in the early hours of the morning right before a significant release. That's not "Apache", that's one team member with a significant vested interest going rogue. Don't believe me? Look at the storm of critical comments from the rest of the team on the commit note and the fact that it was quickly reverted with a commit note about not bringing your politics into the code base. It's a gross distortion to say "Apache has already amended this" both because one team member is not Apache and because the amendment was undone as fast as possible (constrained by the fact Roy had sneaked it in at the last moment before a release - so the patch had to wait for the next update, but it was committed almost immediately).

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Re: Not really...

"no normal person reads that (they just press next and finish to make it go away) so its on by default user does not understand why or what it is"

Have you ever actually installed IE10 or Win8? It's a full page with about eight settings on it and a clear message you should check how you want your browser to work. DNT is clearly titled and you can click on it to get a short explanation. You say people do not "understand why or what it is". I would bet money that if you showed 100 people a line saying: "Send 'Do Not Track' request to websites" that 98% of people would understand it was a setting asking websites not to track them. Do you disagree?

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Anonymous Coward

Right back at you.....

" Asking the server to do it for you because you're too thick to take responsibility for yourself is ridiculous "

Car manufacturers should supply all the parts to build a car, because if your to thick to put it together, then maybe you should walk.

I've built one, how about you, thickie?

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Windows

So right

I've been using DNT in three browsers (chrome, FF and IE) for months and here is my verdict

a) anything that stops advertisers or other parties from tracking people's online activity is a good idea, YAY Microsoft.

b) DNT works reasonably well under Chrome, great under FF, but breaks IE9 every 5 minutes. The IE10 upgrade will be installed on my box, if it performs as advertised. Otherwise, I will be sticking with its competitors

c) As pointed out, there is a difference between advertising and tracking. I don't want ads all over my page, but accept that they help web site operators pay the bills. What I do resent is people hoovering up where I have been and what my favorite pages are etc and then monetizing it or worse. A Minority Report life experience is not really what I want for myself or my kids.

We need to fight back before privacy becomes a quaint old-fashioned notion. This will help set the example

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FAIL

Just HOW MUCH advertising do people REALLY NEED?

One set of clothes will last a year or three.

One car or bicycle is good for about 15 years.

Ummmm one pile of books from the opp shop or free online will last forever.

Where do these fucking arsehole advertisers get off on RAMMING a never ending stream of shit into the lives and minds of people?

I mean fuck - life is short.

Where do they think that they have the right to waste staggering amounts of peoples lives serving up bullshit that for the most part, people do not want, or need or can't afford?

If they won't do it or can't accept it - tune out and turn off - and get a life.

Buy a mallet and some chisels and make a boat out of a tree and sail across the ocean or something.

Fuck the advertisers.

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Pirate

"drastically...

"...improve the online experience by reducing the amount of irritating crap, pop-ups, sliding ads, annoying sounds that play if you mouse over something by mistake and all the other extraneous shit that pisses off users..."

There, fixed it for you!

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Re: "drastically...

They're implementing NoScript in IE10?

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Re: "drastically...

That's actually an interesting way that Microsoft could starve Google of it's revenues.

Just put adBlocker or noScript in IE by default.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, there's pretty much no way to spin the admen's position

as anything but colossal self-interest.

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Re: Yeah, there's pretty much no way to spin the admen's position

But its an optional standard. It likely at least some of the admen were going to ignore it anyway, but now they all will. it wont Stop a thing!

if were lucky, they may still honor the flag on other browsers, but the admen have now been given a big out, so this entire thing has been a waste of time.

Also, this is a DO NOT TRACK flag, not a DO NOT SHOW ADVERTS as some people seem to think.

What microsoft have done is removed any chance of this being of any use. Well done.

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Re: Yeah, there's pretty much no way to spin the admen's position

"But its an optional standard. It likely at least some of the admen were going to ignore it anyway, but now they all will. it wont Stop a thing!"

The purpose of the optional standard was a token gesture to shelter them from privacy laws. They would say: "look, it's okay that we tracked all these people because they have the freedom to tell us not to." Never mind that they know full well how difficult that is for many people. Of course you might argue that it could be made easy for people or a browser provider could help people choose. Like... Microsoft. ;)

Besides, there's some misinformation going on around here. IE10 doesn't have DNT set to on by default. It presents a screen full of options when you install IE or Win8 which has DNT presented as one of the options and a clear message that you're choosing these settings and asks you to confirm if these are the settings you would like. It's not like Firefox where the setting has a true default and it's not presented to you on install. The user is actually presented with a choice about DNT on install. It's just that 99% of users will elect to go with the suggested setting of having DNT turned on.

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Re: Yeah, there's pretty much no way to spin the admen's position

Ahh yes, but the Add Men want the DNT setting to come with a pre checked setting of “I do not want to use DNT” as the default.

That way 99% of users will “elect” by “choice” to go with the suggested setting and thus the ADD MEN can say ”hey you asked for adds!”.

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Re: Yeah, there's pretty much no way to spin the admen's position

"Ahh yes, but the Add Men want the DNT setting to come with a pre checked setting of “I do not want to use DNT” as the default."

More likely they'd want the description to be more like:

'do not disable the Don't use DNT function (note: choosing this may lead to receiving increased irrelevant advertising).'

[And I may not have had the right number of negations in there, please add one if not, my brain hurts too much to parse it again...]

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Is it IE10 or IE8 they are talking about, article is confused but good that the Admen don't like the Don't Track feature. Hope they don't buckle under the pressure.

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Happy

IE10 is the one getting their pants wet. The “you must opt out” trick is as old as any con trick.

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Hallelujah. Microsoft is reborn.

Lately MS seems to be doing more right than wrong. Good on them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hallelujah. Microsoft is reborn.

Yes, they are a harmless old man now, whose worst crime is to wee himself sometimes on the bus, and telling the younger generation how great things were in the olden days before F/OSS came along like some devil's music.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 12:52GMT - Re: Hallelujah. Microsoft is reborn.

Not yet! Campaign against Linux is alive and still strong.

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Happy

I see no ad's

Thanks to a Reg article many years ago singing the praises of Ad Block Pro.

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Angel

Re: I see no ad's

Obviously you've whitelisted a few of your favourite sites!? :)

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Re: I see no ad's

Me neither -- I'm blocking adverts by running my own nameserver, which tells a few spare ribs.

I've even been thinking of offering advertisement-free surfing as a premium service, if I can get some ADSL capacity to resell.

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Re: I see no ad's

I prefer to have a cow munch mine but yeah - if you don't want to see adverts you don't have to :)

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It's a good default

But MS could backtrack slightly by asking users when they first launch the browser whether they want it on or off and recommend it's set to on. Then nobody has cause to complain, unless they think users should be kept ignorant so that it's turned off.

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Re: It's a good default

That may be the best solution. There's already been reports that some companies will ignore the DNT if it's from Internet Explorer because they will assume it's just the default setting. If it's a specific question on first start-up they can't use that getout (although many of them still will, of course).

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WTF?

Re: It's a good default

They do. On the Windows 8 installation screen Do Not Track is shown with a slide-switch that is set to on. One click half-way through the installation and it's off. What's the problem there?

Microsoft have been battered for years over their relaxed approach to security. As soon as they change tack and do what's been demanded of them they instantly get shouted at. If I was them then at this point I'd throw my hands in the air, accept that I can't win no matter what and do whatever I felt like...

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Re: It's a good default

"But MS could backtrack slightly by asking users when they first launch the browser whether they want it on or off and recommend it's set to on. Then nobody has cause to complain, unless they think users should be kept ignorant so that it's turned off."

That's exactly what happens. You install IE10 or turn on Win8 for the first time and you get a page of config options with an explanation and suggested values. DNT is one of them. But how many people are going to say: "yes please, I'd like to be tracked."

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Re: It's a good default

Also the DNT specks say only that the user should have a choice, they make no mention as to the default.

The “you must opt out” trick is as old as any con trick.

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Happy

Re: It's a good default

MS do ask!!! its an option when you first set it up.

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Re: It's a good default the just rewards in that case...

ad block pro or plus

Vpn and black holers

Cookie poisoners

Ifnpeoplenwant to buy shit, theynwill pay attention tonthe ads. But,nthere is more to tracking than cookies. These invasive fuckers use browser and system fingerprinting techniques, as well as timing and characterizing our typing and clicking habits.

It will be popcorn time when privacy groups teach people how to use vpns, proxies, as blockers, white lists, and just plain furning off javascriot and flash, and learning how to live on a leaner diet of blitzing eye candy.

Admen: you have a rigt to advertise, not monitor and slurp.

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@Christoph

The only real report I know of was from the Apache programmer who apparently was so upset with this default setting that he threatened to implement a routine in the Apache server to ignore the setting whenever it was coming from MSIE10.

Talk about professionalism...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a good default

"Microsoft have been battered for years over their relaxed approach to security. As soon as they change tack and do what's been demanded of them they instantly get shouted at."

You make it sound like the former batterers are also the latter shouters. I don't believe this is the case, and I know which of the two I'm siding with.

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Re: @Christoph

"The only real report I know of was from the Apache programmer who apparently was so upset with this default setting that he threatened to implement a routine in the Apache server to ignore the setting whenever it was coming from MSIE10. Talk about professionalism..."

Heh. That "Apache programmer" happens to be Roy Fielding, employee of Adobe who didn't threaten to implement a routine. He actually submitted a patch that ignored DNT for IE10 users right before a major version release in the early hours of the morning without consultation or approval from anyone else. He's a member of the DNT working group so not exactly a disinterested party. Caused quite a storm of protest amongst other Apache developers, not least of which because his change alters things below the Application layer which, even if you do feel it is right to disregard headers from IE10, is the wrong place to do it as the application layer essentially gets lied to about the HTTP request. A patch was quickly submitted to revert it with a change log reason of (iirc), "don't bring politics into the codebase" or very like.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Christoph

Yes, the flame war started last month and the sh*t storm is still going on over at github:

https://github.com/apache/httpd/commit/a381ff35fa4d50a5f7b9f64300dfd98859dee8d0

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Facepalm

Ad men see bonuses going south

Tracking is just the latest bandwagon that advertisers have leapt on.

There will be another one along as soon as they realise that MS are not going to back down.

For the first time in ages I am tempted to go back to using IE.

Although that will mean Windows 8,...... hmmm, maybe not.

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Re: Ad men see bonuses going south

We could always invent spurious predictions that the planet will be eaten by a giant mutant star goat and offer them a once in a lifetime chance to escape impending doom on board one of three massive arks in space...

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