Privacy Police

Microsoft’s Surprising Move to Protect User Privacy

Internet Explorer 10 will have Mozilla's Do Not Track software automatically enabled.
 Microsofts Surprising Move to Protect User Privacy

Mr. Lynch (blogs.technet.com)

We’re pretty sure that the vast majority of Betabeat users not only don’t use Internet Explorer, but also passionately despise it. But we’ll give props when props are due, and despite Microsoft’s one out of four star rating from the EFF on privacy, the company now appears to be taking a stronger stand on the issue.

Microsoft announced on its blog yesterday that Mozilla’s Do Not Track feature would be automatically implemented within all copies of Internet Explorer 10. The move, Microsoft says, will empower users to make more informed decisions about the way third parties handle their data.

According to Brendon Lynch, Microsoft’s chief privacy officer:

We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used. Online advertising is an important part of the economy supporting publishers and content owners and helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to go to market….Of course, we hope that many consumers will see this value and make a conscious choice to share information in order to receive more personalized ad content. For us, that is the key distinction.

Unsurprisingly, advertising companies are in a tizzy about the decision–particularly the Digital Advertising Alliance, of which Microsoft is a member. Enabling Do Not Track cripples the industry’s ability to serve highly-tailored ads based on a user’s web activity. Stu Ingis, general counsel of the alliance, told theĀ Wall Street Journal “that the industry supports ‘consumer choice, not a choice made by one browser or technology vendor.’”

Of course, Mr. Ingis missed the point: Customers should be allowed to choose to opt in, not be forced to opt out.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com