I read an article yesterday on the New York Times about the Do Not Track process and was amused to read the following:
First came a stern letter from nine members of the House of Representatives to the Federal Trade Commission, questioning its involvement with an international group called the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, which is trying to work out global standards for the don’t-track-me features. The legislators said they were concerned that these options for consumers might restrict “the flow of data at the heart of the Internet’s success.”
Next came an incensed open letter from the board of the Association of National Advertisers to Steve Ballmer, the C.E.O. of Microsoft, and two other company officials. Microsoft had committed a grievous infraction, wrote executives from Dell, I.B.M., Intel, Visa, Verizon, Wal-Mart and other major corporations, by making Do Not Track the default option in the company’s forthcoming Internet Explorer 10 browser. If consumers chose to stay with that option, the letter warned, they could prevent companies from collecting data on up to 43 percent of browsers used by Americans.
“Microsoft’s action is wrong. The entire media ecosystem has condemned this action,” the letter said. “In the face of this opposition and the reality of the harm that your actions could create, it is time to realign with the broader business community by providing choice through a default of ‘off’ on your browser’s ‘do not track’ setting.”
Personally I would applaud Microsoft’s actions to make the “opt out” process very easy for customers, as over 75% want to opt out. Compare this to hiding the setting deep in the browser settings like Apple did. I believe the browser vendors have it right, and Apple has it wrong. Yes, we need to ask users, and they should be aware of the repurcussions, but it must be simple and obvious.
Word to advertisers: I know you want info. And I will sometimes give you some. But if you do not honour my wishes, I will turn on ad blocking software and you will get nothing.