Microsoft won’t automatically turn on ’Do Not Track’

Microsoft won’t automatically turn on ’Do Not Track’

Microsoft will no longer automatically turn on the “Do Not Track” (DNT) feature in its Web browsers, a shift that is sure to raise eyebrows in the privacy community. 

"DNT will not be the default state in Windows Express Settings moving forward, but we will provide customers with clear information on how to turn this feature on in the browser settings should they wish to do so,” Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch wrote in a blog post Friday. 

“This change will apply when customers set up a new PC for the first time, as well as when they upgrade from a previous version of Windows or Internet Explorer,” Lynch added. 

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The “Do Not Track” feature allows Web users to request that websites and advertisers not track their movements online. Available in all major browsers, the feature does not guarantee that a website will not track users — it simples signals their desire not to be tracked. 

Microsoft’s decision is notable given its previous support for an automatic “Do Not Track” signal. 

In 2012, Lynch called enabling the feature “an important step in this process of establishing privacy by default, putting consumers in control and building trust online.” 

On Friday, Lynch explained the shift by pointing to a change in the language of the “Do Not Track” strand issued by the World Wide Web Consortium. 

The document now states that, in the absence of user choice, “there is no tracking preference expressed.” 

“The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user,” the standard reads. 

The change is likely to affect users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 when they upgrade to Windows 10.