Windows 8 sticks with IE10 'Do Not Track' by default

Microsoft is enabling the "Do Not Track" (DNT) feature in the version of Windows 8 that's off to PC makers, guaranteeing a pushback from advertisers.

IE10 in desktop mode in Windows 8.
(Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)

The DNT feature is designed to stop third-party websites from tracking your online activity. Websites that find DNT turned on in your browser are supposed to back off. Most browsers leave the setting turned off, leaving it up to the user to decide whether to enable it.

But a blog post from Microsoft's chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch confirmed that the company is sticking with its ongoing policy to turn DNT on by default. The decision to enable the setting in the Windows 8 release preview will carry over into the Windows 8 RTM.

"In conjunction with the release of the release preview of Windows 8 in late May, we announced that we would be turning 'on' a DNT signal as part of the default configuration for IE10," Lynch explained. "Since then, we have conducted additional consumer research that confirmed strong support for our 'consumer-privacy-first' approach to DNT."

Microsoft has asserted all along that enabling the feature by default is in the best interests of its customers. But advertisers are likely to continue to raise a stink.

The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), which represents advertisers in the US, said recently that it agreed to honour the DNT feature, as long as it is not enabled by default. The DAA has previously complained that Microsoft's decision runs counter to an agreement established earlier this year with the White House. Upset by Microsoft's policy, advertisers could simply decide to ignore the setting in Internet Explorer.

While DNT will be turned on by default, Windows 8 users will have control of the feature during the set-up process. Those who choose the Windows 8 "Express Settings" option will be informed that DNT will automatically be turned on. People who instead opt to "customise" their set-up will be able to turn the setting on or off. Either way, the setting can always be switched on or off.

A representative for Microsoft told CNET that the company has no comment beyond the information on Lynch's blog.


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