Technology

Lawmakers look to save Microsoft’s ‘Do Not Track’ default setting

{mosads}Microsoft’s move has infuriated online advertisers, who tailor ads to users based on their browsing history. 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.

Advertisers have urged the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a standards-setting body made up of Web companies, advertisers and privacy groups, to rule that they do not have to comply with Do Not Track messages if the feature is a default setting.

Under a preliminary draft proposal from a W3C working group, the Do Not Track message would only be valid if users have to choose to turn it on.

That ruling would force Microsoft to either abandon Do Not Track as its default or to leave its users with no meaningful way to block tracking.

In a letter to the W3C working group, Markey and Barton argued that a default Do Not Track setting “provides consumers with better control and choice with respect to their personal information.”

The lawmakers called on the group to make the “protection of consumer privacy a priority and support Microsoft’s announcement by endorsing a default Do Not Track setting.”

They also argued for a broad Do Not Track definition that stops companies from “accumulating, using, sharing, or selling the consumer’s personal data.”

The W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group is meeting in Washington state this week to try to develop a consensus definition of Do Not Track.  

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