Microsoft has announced that it will be changing its Do Not Track default in future iterations of its browsers — namely that it will no longer be enabled by default. The company points to industry standards and the refinement of such, with the latest draft saying that the “signal sent MUST reflect the user’s preference”, and, further into it, that “In the absence of user choice, there is no tracking preference expressed.” Says Microsoft, given that latter portion, it has elected to change the Do Not Track default to avoid any “misunderstanding” regarding whether the chosen implementation follows the standard.
Microsoft implemented Do Not Track a couple of years ago with Internet Explorer 10, and since then efforts have been underway to get a standard in place. The World Wide Web Consortium, more commonly referred to as W3C, has further refined the language of that standard, which reads:
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. The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user. In the absence of user choice, there is no tracking preference expressed.
Because of this, says Microsoft, having Do Not Track enabled by default means that it could be argued the user doesn’t prefer that setting, but rather it was already in place, and therefore does not need to be honored. Instructions will be provided in the future, however, to inform users about how to enable it themselves.