Microsoft recently announced that its new version of the Internet Explorer browser, IE10, will have the “Do Not Track” setting enabled by default. The “Do Not Track” tool, supported by the Federal Trade Commission and a number of consumer and privacy groups, including Consumers Union, would allow individuals to tell third party sites that they do not wish to be tracked while surfing the Internet.
The “Do Not Track” feature was first introduced by Mozilla in its Firefox browser. Since then, the feature has gained some traction with other browser companies, advertisers, and popular websites. So far, consumers interested in using the tool have been required to access the setting through their browsers and actually turn it on. Internet Explorer 10, however, will be the first browser to automatically turn on the “Do Not Track” setting without requiring user input. Users can change the setting, should they wish to do so.
In announcing IE10’s new privacy feature, Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer for Microsoft, explained in a memo: “We’ve made today’s decision because we believe in putting people first. We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used.”
Consumers Union supports Microsoft’s recent announcement. Traditionally, consumers have been forced to shoulder the entire burden when it comes to protecting personal data online. This development is just one of the first steps in shifting that responsibility. Having “Do Not Track” as the default setting ensures that consumers get to decide who can see and use their data online, without having to navigate confusing or difficult privacy settings across multiple platforms. Moving forward, we encourage more browser companies to move towards this model and make the default “Do Not Track” the industry standard.