The Mozilla-proposed Do Not Track header is picking up steam. Advertisers are behind it, the FTC is behind it, browser makers are behind it. Even Microsoft is behind it.
In fact, Microsoft is such a fan that it took the concept behind Do Not Track and ran away with it, almost literally.
The company has decided to enable Do Not Track by default in Internet Explorer 10. At first glance, it may even seem like a good idea.
Microsoft has been banging on the privacy drum a lot lately in the hope of getting all those privacy conscious/paranoid people to its side (and away from Google).
It doesn't seem like that many people have stopped using Google Search, Chrome, Gmail and so on to switch to Microsoft alternatives, so perhaps there aren't that many privacy conscious people.
In any case, Microsoft is probably thinking that by having an aggressive stance on privacy in IE10, people will swallow the fact that it's going to be the only option for tablets easier.
Microsoft may even be thinking that it's doing everyone a favor. But just like the slow kid who only wants to help but ends up wrecking everything, Microsoft's move may have unintended consequences and may even lead to Do Not Track being killed in its tracks.
The threat is quite obvious, Do Not Track is voluntary, even if the FTC is "strongly" encouraging it, advertisers can either comply with the users' requests or not.
One way those backing Do Not Track managed to get advertisers to play nice was by making it optional in the sense that it's an user option.
Users have a choice of either telling websites that they don't want to be tracked, telling them they don't mind being tracked or not telling them anything at all, by not selecting any of the two options. Mozilla has come out against
, albeit gently, Microsoft's idea. It believes the key to Do Not Track's success is making it an user option. Having it enabled by default is not an option.
Firefox deals with Do Not Track in three ways, it can send the header saying that users don't want to be tracked, or that they do want to be tracked or not send the header at all if the users haven't chosen anything. All three messages are important.
"We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used," Microsoft said
By enabling the setting by default, Microsoft is not giving users more choice. Having a feature turned on or off for you without your consent or knowledge is not control.