Microsoft has good news for users concerned with Internet privacy. They recently announced that the Do Not Track option will be turned on by default for users of Internet Explorer 10.
This decision may not seem like a big deal, but it is. The Do Not Track option has been around for five years and while some online advertisers have promised to respect it, because it has not been a system default, few consumers have turned it on and thus advertisers were not very concerned about it.
Microsoft’s decision to make Do Not Track a system default may abruptly change all of that.
Do Not Track: Helping You to Remain Anonymous Online
Mozilla, the company that created the Firefox browser, first developed the Do Not Track feature in 2007. It has since been adopted by other browsers, including Internet Explorer.
When Do Not Track is activated, it notifies online advertisers and websites that you do not want them to track your online activity for advertising purposes. So cookies are not placed on your computer to compile information about you, which is important because online advertisers use these cookies to figure out what websites you visit and what you buy online. Then they turn around and sell this information to the highest bidder.
The one big downside to the Do Not Track feature is that it only works if a website agrees to acknowledge it. Some do, but many do not.
However, it’s a step in the right direction, and Microsoft is following in the steps of Twitter by turning on this privacy control by default for its users.
Why It’s a Big Deal
It all comes down to system defaults.
Everyone knows that most users do not change their default computer settings. For online advertisers and analytic companies who live and die by compiling user activity, this is a huge deal. If the main browser of the world’s biggest operating system is set to disallow tracking, it would be disruptive to companies that exist solely to follow users around the web.
While it remains to be seen if a majority of online advertisers and websites will ultimately follow Do Not Track policies, Microsoft should be commended for staking out a pro-privacy position with IE 10.
Ultimately, getting a huge computer company like Microsoft to care about online privacy is a big step in the right direction.
Note: If you want to turn Do Not Track on in IE 9, follow these steps:
- Click on the Tools (Gear) button or press [Alt] X.
- Select Safety > Tracking Protection.
- Click Your Personalized List.
- Click Enable in the lower-right corner of the Manage Add-ons window to turn on the Do Not Track feature.