Lawmakers blast advertisers for ignoring 'Do Not Track' on Microsoft's Explorer

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The other major Web browsers also offer a "Do Not Track" feature, but Explorer was the first to have the setting as its default.

Online advertisers, who tailor ads to users based on their browsing history, panned the move. Although the major browsers already offer Do Not Track, few users turn it on — just 8.6 percent of desktop users of Mozilla's Firefox use the Do Not Track option, for example.

The Digital Advertising Alliance, a coalition of advertising trade groups, advised its members on Tuesday to ignore Explorer's Do Not Track message.

"Machine-driven do not track does not represent user choice; it represents browser-manufacturer choice," the group wrote. "Allowing browser manufacturers to determine the kinds of information users receive could negatively impact the vast consumer benefits and Internet experiences delivered by DAA participants and millions of other Web sites that consumers value. "

Advertisers, under pressure from the Federal Trade Commission and the White House, agreed earlier this year to stop tracking the browsing activity of users who had the Do Not Track feature in their browser turned on. But at the time, no browser offered Do Not Track as the default.

"A 'default on' do-not-track mechanism offers consumers and businesses inconsistencies and confusion instead of comfort and security," the Digital Advertising Alliance wrote.

But Barton and Markey argued that Internet users should have to opt-in to allow advertisers to track their activity.

"If consumers want to be tracked online, they should have to opt-in to be tracked, instead of the other way around," they said in a statement.

“While we appreciate the efforts industry has taken to develop a ‘Do Not Track’ signal, we have long endorsed a standard that allows consumers to affirmatively choose whether to permit collection of their personal information and targeting of advertisements," they said. "Until we have stronger privacy laws in place that mandate a company adhere to a consumer’s preference, especially for children and teens, consumers and their personal information will remain at risk.”

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