updated 01:49 pm EDT, Wed August 8, 2012
Windows 8 installation blocks online tracking
Microsoft has confirmed it intends Internet Explorer 10 to have Do Not Track (DNT) enabled by default in Windows 8. A blog post from the company reiterated its stance, despite online advertisers claiming they would renege on a previously made agreement that required explicit approval from the user before tracking their online movements.
In theory the DNT header detected by the advertiser would either prevent them from tracking the user or permit it, or in instances where there is no DNT header in the browser, it would be up to the advertiser as to what to do. The DNT header needs to be honored by the advertiser for the entire system to work, which led a group of advertisers to agree to honor the voluntary system if DNT is not enabled in the browser by default. Microsoft's previous announcement that it would have DNT enabled unless users selected otherwise caused advertisers to claim it as unfair to their business, causing the working group writing the DNT specification to include a section requiring explicit consent from the user, which would make non-compliant any browser with DNT enabled by default. Others, such as Google and Mozilla, give the user the option to turn tracking off, with tracking enabled by default.
A blog post from Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft, reiterated the company's stance on the DNT header. DNT would be enabled under the "Express Settings" portion of the Windows 8 set-up experience, with a "Customize" option allowing DNT to be turned off later in the process. Microsoft's "goal of designing and configuring IE features to better protect user privacy" is cited as the reason for this, and additional consumer research supported the "consumer-privacy-first" approach to DNT. The Windows 7 install for IE10 would include a prominent notice saying DNT is turned on, along with a link providing further information about the setting.
In May, a "do not track" bill was being considered by the US Senate. The bill would require the FTC to build a framework for the system, requiring users submit requests to opt out of online tracking. [via Ars Technica]