Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

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#1 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 03:31 PM

OK, so Microsoft made an announcement a couple of days ago, regarding the planned privacy settings in IE10.

Advancing Consumer Trust and Privacy: Internet Explorer in Windows 8

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Today, Microsoft announced Windows 8 has reached Release Preview and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 will have ďDo Not TrackĒ (DNT) on by default. This post includes additional thoughts about this important milestone in our effort to advance trust and consumer privacy online. Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 will be the first browser to have DNT on by default. Consumers can change this setting, but the default will be to send the DNT signal to websites that consumers visit.


Mozilla responded to this announcement, explaining their view on the feature. (Which was their invention, originally.)

Do Not Track: Itís the userís voice that matters

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At its foundation, DNT is intended to express an individualís choice, or preference, to not be tracked. Itís important that the signal represents a choice made by the person behind the keyboard and not the software maker, because ultimately itís not the browser being tracked, itís the user. In the words of the W3C group, which is made up of leading consumer privacy groups and industry representatives including Microsoft:

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Key to that notion of expression is that it must reflect the userís preference, not the preference of some institutional or network-imposed mechanism outside the userís control.Ē (Tracking Preference Expression, W3C Editorís Draft, 29 May 2012)


So, yet again, it seems Microsoft is going against the established standards. Even though, admittedly, this feature isn't a really a standard yet, Microsoft is going against the core ideals this feature is built on. All in what appears to be another PR stunt, trying to make IE10 look like the most "Private" of them all, even though this move will likely cause the ad-services to drop support for the header entirely, making it completely useless.

What do you think. Will the DNT feature survive this, or is this a death sentence?

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Replies To: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 04:31 PM

Really I think the DNT was doomed to fail long before this. I commend Microsoft for making this on by default. But in reality it is the sites themselves doing the tracking of users, not the browsers. We as programmers can easily build browser software that doesn't submit information but sites continue to track through analytics and server side software that is the real issue towards privacy.

I also don't believe Microsoft is going against anything by the W3C in the idea that the software is imposing a decision. Having it off by default is imposing a decision too. I think all vendors should be taking privacy into account first and never preventing the user from changing the default.

I have no issues with Microsoft for this. But only if DNT was destined to succeed. Even if all browsers were on board, doesn't matter as long as web site owners continue to data mine info from something as simple as IP or straight out require the user to login.

:)
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#3 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 04:36 PM

Wait... so the complaint is Microsoft is going to incorporate a Mozilla's idea and have it turned on by default, so the average consumer doesn't have to jack with the settings ala Facebooks hijinks?
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#4 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:05 PM

As I've been looking at this, the main goal of the DNT header was not to prevent the sites themselves logging the usual info on their visitors, but rather to prevent 3'rd party advertising and statistics services from tracking user movement between sites. No matter where you go these days, you're almost always being tracked by things like Google Analytics. That's what this was meant to combat.

Martyr2 said:

I also don't believe Microsoft is going against anything by the W3C in the idea that the software is imposing a decision. Having it off by default is imposing a decision too.

Yes, but like it says in the Mozilla article, there aren't just two states: On and Off. There is a third state, which Firefox defaults to: not sending the header at all. That should be interpreted as: "no decision made by the user". - The software should not be telling sites that the user has chosen to either disable or enable tracking if the user hasn't made a choice either way.

modi123_1 said:

Wait... so the complaint is Microsoft is going to incorporate a Mozilla's idea and have it turned on by default, so the average consumer doesn't have to jack with the settings ala Facebooks hijinks?

No. Mozilla's idea was to give the user a choice. That is what the DNT header is supposed to do, and turning it On by default is an abuse of that idea.

In theory it's great that Microsoft is trying to protect their user's privacy. In practice, thought, opting all their users out of tracking by default will make the entire thing pointless. It destroyed the whole "user opt-out" principle, so the services that may have respected it for that purpose are likely to just ignore it. Most of the users opting out of tracking haven't actually chosen to opt-out, and they have no way to tell the difference between a user that has chosen or a user that Microsoft has chosen for.

Martyr2 said:

Really I think the DNT was doomed to fail long before this.

You may be right about that. It was always dependent on those 3'rd party services respecting the header, which was kind of a long shot. I do believe, however, that most of the "major" tracking services, that account for most of the "invasion of privacy" on the web, would have respected it. Some of them may well have been looking for a reason to ignore it without looking like they are ignoring people's privacy, and this could very well be reason enough.
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#5 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:11 PM

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No. Mozilla's idea was to give the user a choice. That is what the DNT header is supposed to do, and turning it On by default is an abuse of that idea.

Okay so there's my quandary. It's a binary choice - right? Either it's on or off, right? I would prefer it being defaulted as 'on' out of the gates as, I said, opposed to how facebook does their privacy settings where they make changes and you need to dig through screens and what not to turn them on or off and get your stuff back to semi normal.

I would rather it default to 'yes protect my privacy and let me choose otherwise if I want' than 'nope.. keep it off and your normal person won't know enough to care to turn it off'.
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#6 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:42 PM

You are still overlooking one part of this. There are effectively three options: Allow tracking, Disable tracking, and Undecided. The value of the header signifies a user's choice to enable or disable tracking. If the user hasn't chosen, the browser should default to the third option: not sending the header at all. Anything else is an abuse of the concept.

Microsoft is treating this like an added privacy feature that their users will benefit from if it defaults to being on. In reality, if Microsoft decides for all their users to opt-out, it will be a meaningless value that may as well not exist. Those advertising and analytics services won't respect the header if the browsers are sending them false choices.
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#7 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:14 PM

Wait.. isn't "not sending the header" the same thing as "don't track me"?

Man that's asinine. The issue is if microsoft DOES take a positive action on privacy they get crapped on? So the advertisers will only let this fly when there is enough sacrifices of IE users that they ignore firefox? That's jacked up reasoning.
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#8 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 03 June 2012 - 02:13 AM

Why would not getting a DNT header be read as getting a DNT header? Not sending the header means: do what you normally do. The user has not asked that you stop tracking him.


And nobody is crapping on their pro-privacy stance. That's something everybody wants to see. What they are getting crapped on for is their methods; their decision to send bogus DNT headers.

Like I've said, the DNT header is meant to allow the user to opt-out. If one of the most used browsers is opting out by default, without even asking the user, the whole concept is useless and you can't expect anybody to respect it.
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#9 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 03 June 2012 - 10:07 AM

Okay.. so again it comes down to MS is being shit on because the *advertisers* might not play ball.. and the IE users must be offered up as advertising bait to trick everyone into agreeing to use the standard while firefox users skim by all privacy'ed up.
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#10 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:42 AM

It has little to do with Firefox users. Firefox uses the default behavior (not sending the headers) so Firefox users would have the same deal IE users would have, if Microsoft were using the header the way it was meant to be used.

What you refer to as "advertising bait" is the current state of ALL internet users. All the DNT header was meant to achieve was an "opt-out" option for users who chose it. Of course this won't work if ALL users are opted out by default. You can't expect the advertisers to agree to respect a user's choice if it's not actually their choice.
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#11 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:44 AM

.. yeah but there are people who like the directed ads.. that was part of the standards doc you linked. They will want to continue as is..

Either way it's a mixing burdens issue..
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#12 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 03 June 2012 - 12:03 PM

I'm not sure I follow you. If people like to see ads, they can ignore this whole situation and choose nothing. Or they can choose to send the DNT header with a "0" value to signal their approval.- Except in IE10, that is, where they would have to approve it manually, as IE forces it's denial on them otherwise.
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#13 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 09 June 2012 - 04:52 AM

Not surprisingly, the latest draft for the DNT spec now explicitly forbids user agents from sending the DNT header if the user hasn't made a choice, which means when the spec goes through Microsoft can not claim compliance.


I read another interesting take on this. - It seems that some US federal agency I can't remember what is called (something to do with trade) is leaning on online advertisers to honor the header, and to keep the feds happy they are likely to do just that. So rather than ignore the DNT header altogether the ad services will probably just ignore them when coming from IE10 users while still honoring them when coming from other browsers. The feds can hardly complain while Microsoft is not complying with the standard.
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#14 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 09 June 2012 - 05:39 AM

Don't worry - the precious ad agencies have secured their pound of flesh..

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Microsoftís surprise announcement last Thursday was interpreted by many as a way to gouge Google, which runs an ad system based on tracking cookies. But it also enraged many online ad companies and industry groups, who saw the move as overly aggressive and a threat to their business model.

After initially opposing the idea, the online ad industry is now seeking to soothe the feds by hammering out rules that arenít too tough on data collection. The hope then is that not many users avail themselves of the tool, and then not much has to change in how ad companies build profiles of users in order to sell premium-priced targeted ads.

But Microsoftís announcement threw a wrench in those plans, since itís likely that eventually something like 25 percent or more of the 'Netís users will upgrade to IE 10 over time and would then have DNT on by default.

cite
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#15 Utael  Icon User is offline

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Re: Will Microsoft destroy the DNT header?

Posted 09 June 2012 - 11:52 PM

So essentially the third option is go ahead and track me cause I haven't chosen. The datainers won't care if its a yes or a no answer they can choose to not track if you've asked not to be. It's all useless and unless there is legal action regaurding this any and all standards are useless. Look at Dmx 512. It's supposed to be 2 twisted pair plus ground with 120 ohm resistance and 5 pin xlr termination.
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