“Do Not Track” Set to “On” By Default in Internet Explorer 10—IAB Response

May 31, 2012

Today, Microsoft announced that the newest version of Internet Explorer, packaged with the Windows 8 Release Preview, will have a so-called “Do Not Track” flag set to “on” by default. This represents a step backwards in consumer choice, and we fear it will harm many of the businesses, particularly publishers, that fuel so much of the rich content on the internet.

IAB is committed to empowering consumers with meaningful choice when they have legitimate privacy concerns. As a founding member of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), the industry-wide self-regulatory body that covers more than 90 percent of the ecosystem and is delivering transparency and choice to consumers, we believe the only workable policy is to educate consumers and allow them to control how data is collected for certain purposes, including interest-based advertising. A default setting that automatically blocks content violates the consumer’s right to choose.

Earlier this year the DAA joined with the White House and Federal Trade Commission in endorsing this approach, stating that the DAA would immediately begin work to add browser-based header signals to the set of tools by which consumers can express their preferences under the DAA Principles.” Furthermore, this commitment requires that consumers have affirmatively chosen to exercise a uniform choice with the browser-based tool.

We agreed with the White House and FTC then, and we agree with them now. Moreover, the DAA program is a proven success; it is already protecting the privacy of millions of American consumers; identifying violators of the principles and prompting them to become more transparent and respectful of consumers’ privacy expectations; and allowing for the ongoing growth and evolution of the interactive industry.

We do not believe that default settings that automatically make choices for consumers increase transparency or consumer choice, nor do they factor in the need for digital businesses to innovate and thrive economically. Actions such as these will undermine the success of our industry’s self-regulatory program. Such actions also will constrain the flow of ad-supported digital content that informs, educates, entertains and delights consumers across the U.S. and the world.

Randall Rothenberg
President and CEO
Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)