Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Microsoft offers stronger "do not track" with IE9, on Vista and W7 only; still opt-out; Stanford prof questions effect on Internet business models

Microsoft has implemented a strong (but still opt-out) “do not track” in IE9 and proposed two components of it that could become a computing standard that advertisers must honor.

There are various stories, including WSJ (tweeted by EFF), but the Betanews story summarizes it here.   One part of the standard proactively maintains white and black lists of servers that a web user allows, and another sets preferences, recognizable by Javascript (as well as java and c++  or c# libraries) that webservers will be expected to honor.

W3C has a report on Microsoft’s submission here.

CBS News has a detailed writeup that explains that this works only on Vista or Windows 7, not XP, which is limited to IE8, forever, link

“Do Not Track” has its own site here.

The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford has an interesting article by Jonathan Mayer, “Do-No-Track is not support to ad-supported business” here  because it affects only behavioral advertising, which is about 4% of the ad market, and because it is “opt-out” it does not eliminate it, but it might cap it.  I would still wonder how it could affect small website and blog operators who may depend more on advertisers who do use it, and I wonder how it could affect Facebook.

Internet businesses have developed business models that are predicated on a more “individualistic” value system than many people are ready for.  Tracking by IP address probably doesn’t affect most people significantly, but it might for people interdependent on more complex social arrangements.

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