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Microsoft's decision to enable Do Not Track in IE10 by default is still managing to elicit industry criticism. Yahoo is the latest company to ignore IE10's on-by-default DNT policy, joining Apache in not recognizing the browser's DNT setting. Yahoo reasons that Microsoft's automatic implementation of DNT degrades the user experience and does so without expressing the intent of those users.
Ultimately, we believe that DNT must map to user intent — not to the intent of one browser creator, plug-in writer, or third-party software service. Therefore, although Yahoo! will continue to offer Ad Interest Manager and other tools, we will not recognize IE10’s default DNT signal on Yahoo! properties at this time.
DNT, if you haven't heard, promises to give web surfers an officially sanctioned way to avoid being tracked by online advertisers. The open standard remains a work in progress though, meaning some aspects of DNT are still open to interpretation; however, recent WC3 drafts spell out that DNT should never be enabled by default. Of course, IE10 remains the lone browser ignoring this rule.
A user agent MUST have a default tracking preference of unset (not enabled) unless a specific tracking preference is implied by the decision to use that agent.
Source: wc3.org, current DNT draft
Although Yahoo is clearly against the default enablement of DNT, the company says it doesn't mind DNT itself. Yahoo writes that it is committed to working with the W3C in order to ensure the standard meets user expectations, gives meaningful results and remains transparent. It portrays users opting-in for DNT as another way for those individuals to personalize their online experience.
In principle, we support “Do Not Track” (DNT). Unfortunately, because discussions have not yet resulted in a final standard for how to implement DNT, the current DNT signal can easily be abused. Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users’ direction. In our view, this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them. It basically means that the DNT signal from IE10 doesn’t express user intent.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) also recently spoke out about IE10's DNT policy. The organization described Microsoft's decision to enable DNT by default as a profound disappointment, reasoning that the feature will hurt ad targeting specificity and as a result, will damage overall advertising revenue. The ANA argues that decreased ad revenue will provide less incentive for quality content and will ultimately hurt the web.
Microsoft's Windows 8, which comes bundled with IE10, was launched the same day Yahoo published their statement. It'll be interesting to see if Microsoft sticks to its guns despite the industry backlash.
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