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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

October 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Big companies criticize Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 10 “Do Not Track” decision

More than three dozen board members of the Association of National Advertisers — including representatives of Intel, IBM, Procter & Gamble and General Motors — have sent a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other company execs, expressing their “strong opposition” to Microsoft’s decision to ship Internet Explorer 10 with the “Do Not Track” setting turned on by default.

In the letter, the ANA board members say Microsoft’s decision “will undercut the effectiveness of our members’ advertising and, as a result, drastically damage the online experience by reducing the Internet content and offerings that such advertising supports. This result will harm consumers, hurt competition, and undermine American innovation and leadership in the Internet economy.”

They want Microsoft to reverse its position.

Microsoft already faced criticism from advertisers earlier this year for that decision. Microsoft said that it was sticking to its guns, citing its “goal of designing and configuring IE features to better protect user privacy, while also affording customers control of those features,” according to an August blog post written by Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer, Brendon Lynch.

Users will still have the ability to turn off the “Do Not Track” function, Lynch pointed out.

The ANA board was not pleased with that decision either, saying in its Oct. 1 letter that “Microsoft’s subsequent announcement that it will provide consumers with the ability to change the setting to ‘off’ at installation is also problematic. As explained above, it is clear that a default ‘off’ setting for consumers to control online data collection strikes the right balance for society as a whole.”

“Do Not Track” is a tool that allows browser users to restrict advertisers from collecting information about their online Web activities. It has the backing of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Browsers with “Do Not Track” turned on don’t block cookies, but send a message to advertisers that the user does not want to be tracked. Companies voluntarily decide whether to comply with “Do Not Track.”

Microsoft issued a statement today, saying:

Our approach to DNT in Internet Explorer 10 is part of our commitment to privacy by design and putting people first. We believe consumers should have a consistent experience and more control over how data about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used. We also believe that targeted advertising can be beneficial to both consumers and businesses. As such, we will continue to work towards an industry-wide definition of tracking protection.

The company also pointed to this editorial in Adweek written by Rik van der Kooi, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Advertising Business Group.

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