Microsoft Will Disable ‘Do Not Track’ Default Setting In Future IE Browser Releases

Microsoft is giving Internet Explorer and Project Spartan browser users a heads up that in future releases, the Do Not Track feature will no longer be enabled by default. On the surface (no pun intended), Microsoft's reasoning for the change is that enabling the privacy feature by default only encourages websites to ignore the setting and use tracking cookies anyway.

It's not such an odd leap of logic, and it's one that the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) agrees with. As WC3 explains, sending a signal to disable tracking "MUST reflect the user's preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user's control." So when no user choice exists -- as would be the case by enabling DNT by default -- websites can assume that no tracking preference is being expressed.


Power users and other tech savvy individuals might scoff at that explanation, though it makes sense for mainstream users who have no idea what DNT is or why it's important. Think of your aunt and uncle, your grandparents, or maybe even your mom and dad -- how many of them could explain DNT?

That said, this is really an issue of websites and advertisers not playing ball. There's no penalty for ignoring DNT requests, and that's exactly what many of them do. Microsoft isn't the only to pull a 180, either -- Yahoo did the same thing a year ago after being the first major tech company to enable the feature.

Until there's an industry standard in place that both sides can agree on, expect to see more of this.