Yahoo, Microsoft Disagree on IE10's 'Do Not Track'

Dennis Faas's picture

Yahoo has confirmed it will not honor "Do Not Track" requests from Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 web browser. Do Not Track is designed to protect web browser users from having their Internet activity tracked.

Experts say the Yahoo decision is based on the way Microsoft has implemented Do Not Track and is not a sign that Yahoo stands opposed to the basic concept.

Do Not Track is designed to stop websites from passing details of a web browser's online activity to advertisers. It works by voluntary compliance with the Do Not Track request, not by any enforcement method.

Advertisers argue that Do Not Track makes it harder for them to provide users with relevant, targeted ads. But many privacy groups like the idea behind Do Not Track.

Tech experts have developed two ways to solve the problem of unwanted web tracking. The first method was to set up browsers so they would allow users to electronically block a site from tracking their activity.

"Do Not Track" A Voluntary Solution

The second and more popular method is Do Not Track, which enables users to set their browsers to issue a signal requesting their activity not be tracked by advertisers.

Most major advertisers have said they are happy to comply with Do Not Track, partly because it may delay or even preclude tighter government regulations against Internet tracking.

By the end of this year, the latest editions of all major web browsers will support Do Not Track. While the setting is always optional and can be changed by the user, in all browsers but Internet Explorer the default setting is "off."

In the recently-launched IE10 the default setting for Do Not Track is "on." IE10 users are told about this during program set-up and are prompted to consider whether they want to switch Do Not Track off.

Yahoo: IE10 Users May Not Understand Do Not Track

To date, Yahoo has heeded Do Not Track signals across its advertising network. However, it now says it isn't willing to do so with Internet Explorer 10 because of the default setting.

Yahoo argues that it's only fair for advertisers to follow Do Not Track where they can be confident the user has explicitly requested it. But when it is merely the default setting, the user might not fully understand its implications and impact. (Source:

Yahoo's decision has prompted debate about the precise wording of the Do Not Track specifications.

Supporters of Microsoft say the specification clearly indicates that any Do Not Track signal is sufficient and must be followed by advertisers, even if it is issued as the result of a default setting. (Source:

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