Microsoft has stepped up its efforts to put privacy controls in the hands of its customers and keep up with evolving standards around tracking by no longer enabling Do Not Track (DNT) as “the default state in Windows Express Settings,” according to a blog penned by the company’s Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) Brendon Lynch.
While it may seem counter-intuitive from a privacy standpoint, after all DNT “was welcomed by many” two years ago when it made its way into Internet Explorer 10 (IE 10) for protecting users from unwanted tracking, concerns had arisen over whether the tactic reflected true user choice, especially, Lynch said, since efforts were afoot to establish an “industrywide standard for user tracking preferences.”
After continued refinement of the language of how “users express a preference regarding tracking” by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Microsoft is “updating our approach to DNT to eliminate any misunderstanding about whether our chosen implementation will comply with the W3C standard,” Lynch wrote.
The language in the latest draft of the W3C’s standard says that “’Key to that notion of expression is that the signal sent MUST reflect the user’s preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user’s control; this applies equally to both the general preference and exceptions,” Lynch noted. “‘The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user.'”
While DNT will not be the default in Windows Express Setting any longer, Microsoft “will provide customers with clear information on how to turn this feature on in the browser settings should they wish to do so,” Lynch wrote. “This change will apply when customers set up a new PC for the first time, as well as when they upgrade from a previous version of Windows or Internet Explorer.”
Future versions of Microsoft browsers will “clearly communicate to consumers whether the DNT signal is turned off or on, and make it easy for them to change the setting,” Lynch said.