Wired: ‘In Ad Network Nightmare, Microsoft Making “Do Not Track” Default for IE 10’

Ryan Singel, reporting for Wired Threat Level:

Consider this scenario: If indeed the net’s major advertisers obeyed Do Not Track and IE 10 keeps the default, more than a quarter of the net’s users would be opted out of behavioral ad tracking by default.

That’d be a far cry from a purely opt-in system that might be used by a single-digit percentage of opt-in users — those who likely don’t click on ads in the first place. So that could make the online advertising industry back out of the process and decide not to implement DNT — or to write its own rules for how it interprets DNT.

So let me get this straight. Advertising networks that track user behavior are OK with “Do Not Track” only so long as a single-digit percentage of users have it turned on? But if a lot of people start using it they’re out? Not being able to track users across the web is a “nightmare” for ad networks?

Years ago I had the idea that if Microsoft really wanted to destroy Google, they should have released a version of IE with a built-in on-by-default ad-blocker that included Google ads in its blacklist. They could have killed Google back when IE had an overwhelming majority browser share. Sure, there would have been a nasty legal fight and Microsoft probably would have lost it, but it would have taken years to litigate and I’ll bet it would have been less expensive to Microsoft than what they’ve flushed down the toilet on Bing over the years.

Today, why not go all-in on user privacy? IE, Safari, Firefox — they should all block these invasive user-tracking cookies. Chrome should too, but of course they won’t. It’s a simple question: Who values user privacy? Safari blocks third-party cookies by default — IE and Firefox should too.

Friday, 1 June 2012