Microsoft turns off DNT in IE and Spartan by default

The company decided to change its thinking following the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations

Privacy

Microsoft has announced it will switch off do not track (DNT) by default on its Internet Explorer and Spartan browsers.

Previously, this feature was turned on by default, meaning websites and advertisers were told automatically users want their habits tracked for advertising purposes. However, critics said that by having this setting turned on, consumers weren't making a conscious decision as to whether or not they were tracked.

Additionally, some advertisers were choosing to ignore this message and were targetting the website visitors anyway because browser developers agreed that if the default option was on, advertisers could choose whether or not to disregard the request for privacy.

By changing the default option to off, browser users turning it on manually gives advertisers and website owners a clear message that they do not wish to be tracked, even if it means ads presented to them are more relevant.

The W3C said in its standards: "Key to that notion of expression is that the signal sent MUST reflect the user's preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user's control; this applies equally to both the general preference and exceptions.

"The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user. In the absence of user choice, there is no tracking preference expressed."

Brendon Lynch, chief privacy officer at Microsoft, said in a blog post: "We said in 2012 that browser vendors should clearly communicate to consumers whether the DNT signal is turned off or on, and make it easy for them to change the setting. We did that for IE 10 and IE 11. And we're continuing to do so with future versions of our browsers."

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