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IE diverges regarding Do Not Track

Microsoft pushes against the crowd and enables DNT by default

Back in .net 213, we reported on Mozilla's Do Not Track (DNT) feature, which a company spokesperson said would give users "better insight and control into online tracking and more transparency into both data collection methods and into how their data is stitched together into a profile".

The past year has seen the technology adopted by Twitter and also other browser vendors – Apple's Safari is the latest major browser to integrate Do Not Track, as of version 6.

However, in June Mozilla and Microsoft clashed regarding the implementation of the technology. Microsoft made the decision to activate DNT by default, and said this was "putting people first"; Mozilla countered that "DNT is not an off switch for a particular technology, rather it is the expression of an individual user's desire being reflected in code".

At the time, it appeared Microsoft was forced to back down, in order to comply with the DNT proposal, which stated user agents must not default to DNT being active. Microsoft has now apparently U-turned on its U-turn, with Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch writing that DNT will be active by default within the Express Settings portion of the Windows 8 set-up experience.

Lynch said this approach was "consistent with Microsoft's goal of designing and configuring IE features to better protect user privacy" and came as a result of additional consumer research. He added that if a user so chooses, the set-up can be customised, and also a prominent notice will be given, stating the selection of Express Settings turns DNT on. Windows 7 users installing IE10 will also receive a "prominent notice that DNT is turned on in their new browser".

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