Recently Microsoft announced a change in how DNT (Do Not Track) will be implemented in Internet Explorer. In a new pre-release version of IE 10 Microsoft will automatically start sending a DNT header for the user so that they will not be tracked by third parties across the web.
We think it is absolutely great to see Microsoft put its full support into DNT. It is important to note that only a year ago Firefox was the only browser that supported DNT. This push on Microsoft’s part will move DNT more into the main stream and bring issues of user control and privacy into the light.
We are eagerly awaiting more information about Microsoft’s new DNT implementation. Such a big name taking this on should mean a lot towards setting standards in regards to DNT. At the core of DNT, and indeed the reason for its existence, is the ability to allow users a choice as to whether they wished to be tracked or not. Believe it or not this is a big deal as up until now the user has not had this choice presented to them. It was simply not put in their hands.
The WC3 group, made up of leading consumer privacy groups and industry representatives including Microsoft , states: “Key to that notion of expression is that it must reflect the user’s preference, not the preference of some institutional or network-imposed mechanism outside the user’s control.”
DNT is exciting because it is not an off switch for a form of technology, rather it is users choice reflected in code. That is what makes this great. DNT goes beyond specific technologies and goes to the heart of the matter: how user browsing habits are used.
Currently there are three different signals to consider when delivering the users tracking preferences. The user can accept tracking, decline tracking, or not have a choice. Firefox defaults to the third option and handles it as if the user says it declines tracking. Ultimately it will be up to the company on how they wish to handle the third option, but we commend Mozilla Firefox for protecting its users by default.
All of this is extremely interesting and a great relief to the end user. There is no reason it could have gone the other way, and we are simply ecstatic that a company like Microsoft is running with DNT in order to protect user choice.