Ad industry calls IE10's 'Do Not Track' setting 'unacceptable'

Privacy advocates hit back, call demands 'bizarre'

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The FTC backs Do Not Track, but Leibowitz has not expressly thrown his weight behind Microsoft and IE10.

Microsoft on Wednesday declined to address the ANA's allegations, instead repeating a previous statement that said, "Our approach to DNT in Internet Explorer 10 is part of our commitment to privacy by design and putting people first."

In an op-ed piece in Adweek last month, however, Rik van der Kooi, Microsoft's top ad executive, said critics were losing perspective. "Instead of debating whether DNT is 'on' or 'off,' we should redouble our efforts as an industry and educate consumers about how advertising pays for the free Web experience we all now enjoy," van der Kooi wrote.

It may be difficult to get the two sides -- the ad industry and privacy-first advocates -- to agree when words like "outrage," "bizarre" and "unacceptable" are bandied by the parties.

The ANA, which did not reply to a Computerworld request to make someone available for an interview, asked Microsoft for a face-to-face meeting between executives. "We respectfully suggest an immediate dialogue with key Microsoft executives prior to the anticipated release of Internet Explorer 10," the trade group said in its letter.

Harris and Brookman had hope for a resolution. "At the end of the day, privacy advocates will have to settle for something less than they would like in an ideal world [and] advertisers must honor their commitment to comply with users' Do Not Track instructions," they said.

The debate isn't limited to the U.S., as European regulators have also weighed in on DNT, and expressed support for Microsoft's position on IE10.

"[The advertising industry] now stands in open defiance of policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic and, more importantly, the tens of millions of users who have enabled Do Not Track in their browser," said Mayer. "[But] the primary effect of their efforts has been to call more attention to Do Not Track."

"We're going to continue to do what we do, which is to put privacy at the top of mind," countered ad exec Minichini, who clearly would like users to run any browser but IE10. "Consumers are empowered by the browsers they choose. But Microsoft is forcing DNT on the consumer population, something we're strongly against, and something we think consumers will be strongly against."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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