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Microsoft upsets advertisers with do-not-track

online privacy1

Stephan Lourens
Born 20 years too early. Curses sometimes. Thinks too much. Believes plug-and-play is the best invention ever. If asked what he wants for his birthday he will... More

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Microsoft’s new default “do not track” setting on its internet browser is a major boost for privacy activists, yet online advertisers are up in arms. Previously on most, if not all internet browsers, “tracking allowed” was the default setting, allowing advertisers to track and deliver relevant adverts to users. Yet, Microsoft’s chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch, said: “We believe consumers should have more control over how data about their online behaviour is tracked, shared, and used.”

Advertisers use various ways to track internet users to be able to deliver targeted advertisements. As described in recent posts it has been said that the information that can be garnered from tracking like this has the ability to invade a user’s privacy, as was proven with the recent presidential race in the US. Advertisers argue that this type of tracking is done anonymously, yet it has been proven that it is very easy to connect an individual’s real persona to his/her hidden identity.

The tools used for this type of ad tracking have the ability to delve deep into an individual’s privacy, revealing anything from sexual orientation to illnesses to income. “That is one of the scariest things, and it shakes people’s faith in the marketing industry,” said Jim Brock, a former Yahoo! executive. “There is very little protection for targeting based on health conditions. This is information that can get in the hands of insurance companies and employers who might not use it in a way we would expect.”

“I believe in ad-supported media, but the industry is giving us no choice,” Brock said. “They need a kick in the butt from the government.”

Advertisers are trying all they can to show their dissent toward this move. The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) has responded, saying: “The trade associations that lead the DAA do not believe that Microsoft’s IE10 browser settings are an appropriate standard for providing consumer choice. Machine-driven do not track does not represent user choice; it represents browser-manufacturer choice.”

The Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus headed by representatives Edward Markey and Joe Barton, hit back saying that “if consumers want to be tracked online, they should have to opt-in, not the other way around.”