back to article Yahoo! will! ignore! 'Do! Not! Track!' from! IE10!

Yahoo! has announced that it will ignore the default "Do Not Track" (DNT) signal broadcast by Microsoft Internet Explorer 10, on grounds that it does not accurately reflect user intent. "Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default, rather than at users' direction," a Yahoo! …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It will be intresting if they do this in Europe!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Europe

      That was my thought. Whether the advertising based companies like it or not, it's an expressed wish by the user to not be tracked. If they don't honour it, will they find themselves up before the beak in Europe?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Europe

        "Whether the advertising based companies like it or not, it's an expressed wish by the user to not be tracked"

        Actually I think Yahoo's point is that when set automatically, it is NOT the user's expressed wish, merely a default setting of which they are probably not aware.

        The problem is that if IE10 sets it as default, and the value is thus (reasonably, perhaps) ignored for that reason, when an IE10 user does make an informed choice, there is no remaining standard mechanism they can use - apart from changing browser.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Europe

          Actually I think Yahoo's point is that when set automatically, it is NOT the user's expressed wish, merely a default setting of which they are probably not aware.

          However, under EU (and Swiss) Data Protection laws, this is the correct default as the user has to opt in to data acquisition, not opt-out because that would expose the user to a game of whack-a-mole to protect their information.

          Astonishing as this is, I am finding myself on the side of Microsoft in this. Now, knowing Microsoft, its past behaviour gives rise to the suspicion that there is probably some not so clean motive behind this, but as it stands they are actually doing the right thing for a chance. I'm as astonished as I suspect everyone else is.

          In this context I am of the opinion that Roy Fielding of Adobe (who wrote the Apache patch to make it ignore the IE10 DNT flag) is ignorant of both EU privacy laws as well as Human Right no 12 - the RIGHT to privacy. Personally, I think he deserves a Big Brother award for his actions. And maybe a formal complaint to the EU for wilfully violating the privacy of many.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Europe

            Just because "opt in for data acquisition" is the legally correct default in Switzerland & EU countries does NOT make it the users "expressed wish". That's the point.

            There are an awful lot of cases where EU directives don't reflect the wishes of the people they purport to represent. Don't get me started.

            (In this case they MAY well reflect their wishes, but, individually and with IE10, there's no way left to tell)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Europe

              I love the way posts like the one above get downvoted simply for stating uncomfortable facts!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Europe

                I doubt that you were downvoted for stating facts, more likely the fact that you selectively chose them. You can essentially say the exact same thing reversed for an opt-out situation as below:


                Just because "opt *out* for data acquisition" is the legally correct default *not* in Switzerland & EU countries does NOT make it the users "expressed wish". That's the point.

                There are an awful lot of cases where *NON-EU* directives don't reflect the wishes of the people they purport to represent. Don't get me started.

                (In this case they MAY well reflect their wishes, but, individually and with *OTHER BROWSERS*, there's no way left to tell)


                The only difference is that your interpretation appears to put the interests of advertisers and other data-miners above those of the technically illiterate, who probably are the ones that need protecting in these situations.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Europe

                  "I doubt that you were downvoted for stating facts, more likely the fact that you selectively chose them. You can essentially say the exact same thing reversed for an opt-out situation"

                  A neat play on words, I grant you, but I don't think your example holds, simply because in your reversed scenario, a user still has the chance to make their individual feeling of wishing to opt-out to be known. With IE10 that won't be possible, as there is no more forceful a "don't track me" value than "default - I haven't really thought about it".

                  Now whilst a website might honour the default DNT, there is enough ambiguity of user intent with IE10 for them to ignore it - something we don't want to see, but which Yahoo and Apache are doing and facilitating.

                  Of course I'm being provocative: I want people to think about it. And I don't really care whether I get up-or downvoted, so long as the concepts are thought about a bit more. (Ideally if you work for Microsoft, Yahoo or Apache!)

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Europe

                    You seem to be missing the point as it isn't a play words, it is an equally valid example covering the opposite default value and all browsers currently implement a default if they support DNT flags at all and therefore the ambiguity of user intent is no greater with IE10 than any other browser. It is because you seem to be doggedly ignoring these details that your posts are clearly showing your 'pro-tracking' bias.

                    "Something we don't want to see" - and which organisation does "we" represent in these posts out of curiosity?

                    The only way of producing an outcome with a subjectively truer interpretation of user intent would be if a browser (ie, including chrome, firefox, safari, etc) did not allow ANY default value (true or false) to be set and forced the user to explicitly choose whether they wanted to be tracked on install/first use while explaining the pros and cons in an unbiased way for those with limited technical abilities. As I can't see that happening any time soon I don't feel that MS deserve any more criticism or special treatment than any other browser maker for their choice of how to technically implement this flag.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Europe

                      "You seem to be missing the point ... the ambiguity of user intent is no greater with IE10 than any other browser."

                      The point is the place where the ambiguity is, is between "default - I've not thought about this" and "I have expressly chosen I don't want to be tracked". With the other browsers, the ambiguity is on the other side, where it's less of an issue.

                      'which organisation does "we" represent in these posts'?

                      No particular organisation, I'm afraid - by "we" I was referring to the web development and IT communities in general. I am not associated in any way with the advertising / tracking organisations - and, for what it's worth, I don't particularly like the idea of tracking cookies.

                      Indeed, my concern here is that Microsoft's action with IE10 is giving the trackers an excuse to ignore DNT settings, and I'd rather they didn't have any excuses.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Europe

                Gosh, you downvoters must be feeling nervous. Is it a guilty-conscience, or simply struggling with the concepts here?

                Let me help - the issue isn't about whether DNT is a good idea or not (though for what it's worth, I think it is a good idea). The issue is whether a browser manufacturer should set it to a default value that obscures what the individual users' opinions are, and thus gives websites an excuse to ignore it.

                1. Number6

                  Re: Europe

                  I'd say it works both ways. Defaulting to tracking also obscures what the user might think, especially as most users probably aren't even aware of its existence. at least defaulting to DNT means their data is (or should be) protected, hence the desirability of making these things opt-in. Much stuff only works due to inertia and ignorance because people don't realise the implications or that they can opt out.

                  Ideally there needs to be a start-up page to explain it (without the 'enhance your user experience' positive spin the marketing industry always use), although even then most people wouldn't bother to read it.

                  Looking at it from a selfish perspective, Microsoft should pick the default that benefits me the most - I don't want to be tracked (not that I use IE anyway) so if their option cause people to ignore my wishes then they've picked the wrong one.

              3. Gordon Fecyk
                Thumb Down

                This is The Register, what did you expect?

                No one here lets facts get in the way of a good downvoting.

        2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

          Re: Europe

          It could be argued, seeing as windows 8 does ask if you want to alter the setting when you set it up that it is the user's choice.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Europe

          >Actually I think Yahoo's point is that when set automatically, it is NOT the user's expressed wish, merely a default setting of which they are probably not aware.

          .........they'll only have to pay out to EU Windows users who claim they were aware of the setting I guess. Plenty of PPI claimers will be looking for a new milker soon, this could be ideal.

          >The problem is that if IE10 sets it as default

          This is a problem for consumers how exactly? If Yahoo buy up the Post Office will I have to put, 'please don't read my letters' stickers on the envelopes?

  2. Steve Knox

    In related news,

    Internet users have affirmed that they will ignore Yahoo!, on grounds that it has not accurately reflected the internet since 1998.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In related news,

      Run by an ex-Googler now. So hardly surprising they aren't bothered about people's privacy.

    2. Not also known as SC

      Re: In related news,

      Not being sarcastic here but what does Yahoo! actually do now? Are they a search engine still?

      I know I could Google them but I don't know if I'm that interested.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: In related news,

        what does Yahoo! actually do now?

        1 - hang on to users with an email account (marginally safer than Hotmail or Google)

        2 - deplete world's supply of exclamation marks

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: In related news,

          IIRC tell they dig in mud looking for pretty stones are dirty and have disgusting habits but it's been a while. It seems Jonathan Swift pretty much hit that nail squarely on the head.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: (marginally safer than Hotmail or Google)

          In what world are they marginally safer than Hotmail or Google?

          In my experience I've ONLY seen yahoo & hotmail been hacked and spam sent out.. while I am sure googles mail is not 100% it is better than yahoo & hotmail by miles

        3. Ed_UK

          Re: In related news,

          "what does Yahoo! actually do now?"

          Purveyors of dropbox email addresses to fraudsters all over the world. How could those fine Nigerian bankers get your reply without Yahoo email?

          Yahoo don't give a stuff about abuse of their services if the spam didn't originate via their servers. Not their problem. No, Sir.

      2. Ellier
        IT Angle

        Re: In related news,

        I went looking just this past week for some mobile sites to add to my droid tablet as shortcuts. It looks like Yahoo lost its first love - being a web directory. I expected better, although there are some sites out there that have bothered to collect the links for users like myself.

  3. Graham Marsden

    "it does not accurately reflect user intent"

    So how do they expect users to express their intent??

    If I decide I want a browser that has DNT on by default or if I switch it on, how is Yahoo going to know the difference?

    1. Craigness

      Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"

      Microsoft fdidn't follow the standards. If you deliberately use a browser which implements CSS wrongly, is it because you want the sites to visit to look like a mess? People spend hours hacking their code to "work" in the browser you chose, completely ignoring your expressed intent for the web not to work properly.

      1. stanimir

        Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"


        Mind you CSS is client side rendering, a header like do not track would be similar to ignore "expires" header/not sending if-modified-since and just ask the resource each time, not caching it.

        I, myself, do not care at all about "Do not track" nonsense since it's unenforceable and relies on the good will of many 3rd parties who put profit before anything else. Ad block is the way to go, it just needs to get to people. The entire idea to push ads into every possible intrusive way is ridiculous over an open standard. A real setting would be - "I do not any ads, thanks"

        1. RW
          Thumb Down

          Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"

          The thing that makes me laugh is that the ads aren't very effective, not at all. I use AdBlockPlus, so I don't see many ads, but the ones I do see never entice me to actually visit the web site advertised, much less spend money at it.

          I spend a fair amount of money on online purchases, but not because of advertising. I've used Google to find sites that sell the kind of thing I usually look for and simply bookmark those. Looking for a specific item, say 1/2" diameter eyelets for my earlobes made of white jade, always requires investigating one such site after another, by hand. (Some sites make the search very easy, others a pain in the ass.)

          Google is hopeless when it comes to exhaustively searching for such a specific item because (a) websites are inconsistent about how they present the information and (b) Google works word by word and isn't very good at finding loose groupings of descriptive words.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"


          > "Do not track" nonsense since it's unenforceable... Ad block is the way to go, it just needs to get to people. "

          I agree with the first bit... but if more people use Adblock, content websites will change so that the legitimate content is only available to people who turn off Adblock -ie, the sites will make their own content look like advertisements to one's browser.

          Its a bit like pop-up blocking... there are plug-ins that do a better job at blocking pop-ups than your stock browser, but as a side effect they block content on a good number of sites. One ends up using as many mouse clicks to enable legitimate content as one would killing annoying pop-ups.

          I don't use Adblock on the Reg, btw. I don't pay a subscription to it, so how else will they make ends meet? I don't often actually buy the things their advertisers are hawking, but that's their loss, not El Reg's. I'm not quite sure how I would go about purchasing some Norwegian Gas (the advert currently to right of my cursor) anyhows. I'm sure it's perfectly good gas, confident it will get hot if ignited, I appreciate the way its advert just sits there and doesn't make my CPU jump to 30%, and I like the way proceeds from the selling of it not only help support El Reg but also go towards breeding a disproportionate number of UN negotiators... but I'm not buying it.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          >A real setting would be - "I do not any ads, thanks"

          So how can free, high quality websites like the Register, expect to keep going?

          Remember, if adblock in on as default, 99% of Joe Public will not bother to switch it off on trusted sites. Most won't even realise it's on in the first place.

      2. marach
        Thumb Down

        Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"

        BZZZZZZZZZZZZZT! Sorry but you are WRONG it did follow the standards, however when the w3c realised that someone was actually going to follow the standard that allowed it to be on by default they changed the standard to not allow it to be a default setting (change was made less than a month ago and after one of the board members changed Apache to ignore IE10's DNT). The thing is it still does technically follow the standard since your told in big letters about DNT on the install screen and given a chance to change the setting.

    2. Tom 35

      Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"

      How would turning it off by default be a better way to "accurately reflect user intent".

      You would have to ask users if they want to be tracked the first time the run the browser for it to "accurately reflect user intent".

      What percentage of people do you think will click "please track me"?

      Advertisers only hope is to have it off by default.

      1. garden-snail

        Re: "it does not accurately reflect user intent"

        IE10 *does* ask you if you want to enable DNT when you install it.

  4. stanimir

    "it does not accurately reflect user intent" x2

    WTF, According Yahoo! and the new Mom (now MILF?) the user has a perverse pleasure of being stalked tracked. I can't imagine a single person who'd know about the setting (header) and keeping it disabled. Of course, the latter may be a simple result of my poor imagination, yet the stupidity of 'will-break-internet' is also imaginably high.

  5. The Alpha Klutz

    you could use some kinda high power laser to shine adverts into peoples eyes

    peoples intent is always to look at adverts, the advertises just have to help them realise it

  6. solidsoup

    Yahoo is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Microsoft has really abused DNT by turning it on by default. If other browsers follow suit, then advertisers won't obey DNT and everything goes back to status quo free-for-all. I know this is not what most people want to hear, but pragmatically advertisers' needs have to be taken into account if their cooperation is to be secured. This means letting tracking be on by default so that people who don't care whether they are being tracked provide some statistical feedback, leaving every one who doesn't wish to be tracked out of it.

    Alternatively, we're looking at an arms race, where advertisers develop more and more sophisticated tracking technologies and users develop ways to bypass them. This is of no benefit to any one and would make it harder for non-tech-savvy people to avoid tracking.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      In the EU, advertisers are not allowed to track people unless they give their explicit informed consent to tracking. So it would appear to me that having DNT on by default is exactly what the EU requires.

      If people want to be tracked, they can go into settings and select the "please stalk me and record my web browsing activity" option. Very few people will do that because very few people want to be tracked.

      I can't imagine there are many people out there who what to be stalked by advertisers but don't know how to enable it.

      1. Burbage


        The letter of the EU directive is not the same thing as the law. In the case of the UK, the Information Commissioner changed their guidelines, a year after the law was supposed to have come into force, to the effect that their new idea of 'explicit consent' would be anyone else's 'assumed consent', following a unexpectedly productive set of discussions with Google and the like, after which 'analytical' cookies were deemed exempt, even when set by an advertising network, and the aim turned from protecting individuals from the intrusions of 'legitimate business' to a valiant fight on behalf of an ignorant and vulnerable population against the burgeoning menace of spyware. It was creative solution to a tricky legal problem, and I expect they got a nice lunch out of it.

        But, before you start wondering whether there's any point to democracy, or having any laws given that the wealthy can have them so swiftly bent to any shape they desire, it's worth remembering that cookies were a bit rubbish in any case and, whether you consent to them or not (assuming they're hosted in the EU), there's no shortage of direct and indirect tracking mechanisms that remain gratifyingly saleable even if their accuracy might be questioned (happily, there are plenty of media agencies devoted to not questioning it. Or, for that matter, making any distinction between statistical analysis and gouging optimism). Especially given the rapidity with which shared authentication has taken off with publishers, who just happen to rely on certain networks to deliver their ads and/or content. The upshot is that, even if you behave with appropriate paranoia toward the cookie menace, you'd be hard pushed to limit your behavioural spillage, especially if you've fallen for the tricksy charms of mobile devices.

        Admittedly, the risks are fairly small. You are, after all, a tiny and nearly worthless fraction of humanity. There are bots earning more than you do, with probably better prospects and almost certainly a better quality of life. The only thing about you that matters is your money and that, if you haven't discovered it already, won't stay yours for long. So, on balance, there's no reason not to look on the bright side.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      That's just relying on less skilled people to be able to know about and find that settings - thereby leaving it disabled to let advertiser earns snooping their data. It's just like selling cars without brake fluid and let people discover they have to add it themselves before leaving the car shop. Sure, advertising company could ignore it unless it is properly enforced by privacy laws. Many other kind of data transmission - be it mail, voice, or data, are protected - why web navigation shuould not? Let's see what happens in county, like mine, where personal data can be used for commercial reasons only after *explicit* consent. And if a browser has DNT off by default, that is not *explicit* consent.

    3. El Andy

      Microsoft haven't "abused DNT" at all. Their implementation is entirely compliant with the specification *and* it's highlighting the option that most people will want, i.e. not to be tracked online, as part of the install process (which the standard *explicitly* allows).

      The real truth here is that the advertising industry wants the option to exist, but be so buried in the UI that basically nobody uses it. Then they can claim in places like the EU that all their tracking is entirely legitimate, because users aren't opting out. If every browser had a prominent message when you first used it asking for you to set a DNT preference, they'd be just as keen to find an excuse to ignore that too.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This "pretty please do not track me" was never going anywhere, these are advertising companies, they lie for a living.

    Use the Ghostery plugin (for all major browsers) and show the trackers who's the boss.

    I'd like to see a browser with the balls to include this as default.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ^ What he said.

      Ghostery + Adblock = Not caring whether the buggers honour DNT settings or not.


      "...this degrades the experience for the majority of users and makes it hard to deliver on our value proposition to them..."

      Did anyone else get the instinctive feeling they could never tire of punching the face of someone with the mere capability to think up such a vomit-inducing lump of business verbiage —never mind actually utter it aloud?

      Dear Yahoo!

      Re: your "value proposition"

      Your increasingly irrelevant web services offer me no value whatsoever. Therefore I decline your proposition.


      The Internet.

      1. Martin 47

        Actually I think you are being unnecessarily wordy there. I prefer;

        Dear Yahoo!

        Fuck! Off!

        Yours sincerely etc etc

      2. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Up

        Ghostery + Adblock

        + Refcontrol

        1. Dave Lawton

          Re: Ghostery + Adblock

          + Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus

    2. Craigness

      These types of plugins have access to all the data you view on the web; some can even view your history. I'd rather block with a hosts file, use a temporary profile or simply ignore the ads manually.

      1. stanimir

        These types of plugins have access to all the data you view on the web

        Even if they do that, they are not human - the only issue would be if they actually 'send' the data anywhere. Being open source kinda precludes that .

        And this is just terrible FUD.

        1. Craigness


          It's not FUD at all. Those plugins rely on FUD to get people to install them, but they do nothing that you can't do without them.

          It's Open Source, so someone must have checked it, right?

    3. ad47uk

      or Do not track plus from Abine. The good thing about DNT+ is that it just makes cookies up with the opt out set, so the ad companies like google can see that you don't want to be tracked.

      The other good thing is that it works with Chrome or chrome clones, where Ghostery as good as it is on Firefox is not so good.

      Abine is

    4. RonWheeler

      Thanks for ghostery. Not come across it before but on top of adblock does pretty much what I want in Chrome.

    5. KirstarK

      nice plugin.


      Strange how its been purchased by an add company.

      Wonder if they have a product that is not blocked by it.

  8. Smart_Girl
    Thumb Down

    Do Not Track is useless.

    Why would anyone in their right mind want "Do Not Track"????

    It *CAUSES* ads to be displayed that you have absolutely no interest in viewing.

    It doesn't "stop ads"... it *CAUSES* you to view pointless ads.... for products that you do NOT want to buy.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do Not Track is useless.

      I'm quite happy to ignore ads for things I don't want to buy or read (not all ads are about stuff you buy)

      Seriously, is ANY web advertising interesting at all? Even for stuff you like? I'd rather the advertisers knew as little about me as possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do Not Track is useless.

        " I'd rather the advertisers knew as little about me as possible. "

        Exactly. Would anyone accept it if their psychologist used what you told him in confidence to try to sell you stuff that interests you? That would be a huge breakdown in ethics and abuse of position.

        However some have no problem when that happens using computers over the Internet. It's no secret that Yahoo, Google, Facebook and others employ psychologists for this stuff.

        I agree with Do Not Track being pointless, this whole user profiling business should be illegal BY LAW, not by request.

        1. Craigness

          Re: Do Not Track is useless.

          Psychiatrist? If they didn't charge for the service but made money through book recommendations then you can make a valid comparison to websites. So, you go to discuss your depression and he suggests you buy a book about dementia. How does that make you feel?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do Not Track is useless.

            @Craigness Such a business model for psychiatrists, or other regulated professionals who deal with private life, would not only be unethical but illegal. That's why they're not doing it (officially at least)

            Books recommendations is also a far too simple example to the depth of data these trackers have on you. A more realistic example would be to imagine the psychiatrist knowing you're depressed, your age, marital status and your estimated wealth (given your address, reading and product choices) and suggesting a £10,000 round-the-world cruise - from a related company - to cheer you up.

            Think this is too far fetched? Guess to whom Google was showing all those profitable fake meds ads they got in trouble with.

            Consider yourself lucky that you're currently in a position to apply critical thinking to ads that are targeted to you, but take time to think that one day - for many reasons, mental health is surprisingly feeble - you may not be and these people will know precisely how to exploit that.

            1. Craigness

              Re: Do Not Track is useless.

              AC, congratulations for completely missing the point.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. keith_w

        Re: Do Not Track is useless.

        "Seriously, is ANY web advertising interesting at all?"

        Yes, the ones with the girls with the big boosums stretching tee-shirts with cute sayings on them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do Not Track is useless.

          Well, in print, there are more images of unclothed women in adverts on the pages of magazines for women than there are in magazines aimed at teenage boys. Better art direction, too.

          I guess more effort goes into making women feel inadequate than goes into making teenage boys feel horny (and inadequately manly unless they buy this moisturiser). I would suggest to teenage boys tht they buy Cosmoweekly or whatever if they want the most boob for their buck.

          - tentative results of a study conducted whilst I was sat in a doctor's waiting room, and had no interest in golf

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart_Girl

      Not very smart are you?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is as stupid as AdBlock Plus plugin not block "acceptable" ads by default.

    Follow the money.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    No surprise here

    In fact, as much as I'm no fan of conspiracy theories, something tells me that this was exactly the sort of response Microsoft was attempting to elicit from the Internet community.

    Remember back before Do Not Track became a cross-browser standard? We had three of them.

    Microsoft's, Google's, and Mozilla's. Mozilla's is the one that got the final tick; a simple header, sent by the client to the server, announcing that it does not wish to be tracked by this site. Microsoft's was more along the lines of allowing the user to specify a list of sites — what the browser does with these sites to block tracking is unclear, perhaps rejection of cookies?

    So by Microsoft "embracing" the DNT header, going so far as to turn it on by default, the Internet community are collectively ignoring the "signal" as they can no longer distinguish it from "noise".

    This has the effect of rendering the DNT header ineffective, and perhaps opening the door to them putting forward their "alternative" proposal … or perhaps the intent was to squash it in the first place?

    Sounds awfully like Microsoft up to its old "embrace, extend, break, discard" trick all over again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No surprise here

      Unfortunately, I think you are right that they wanted to squash DNT. It's typical M$, really.

      Personally, I would like to see every browser have a simple, easy to understand privacy wizard displayed on first run, so the user can configure their own experience (including DNT).

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: No surprise here

        And that is exactly what Windows 8 does. You are presented with the settings to approve, and the Do Not Track option is selected by default.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Windows 8 [was Re: No surprise here]

          Indeed, personally I think having a single setting saying "do not track" which is then applied globally is a bit of an oversimplification IMO.

          Burying it in the first-time settings amongst others is also a mistake. I'd think first time they fire up Internet Explorer, they'd be presented with a dialogue box which gives a run-down on Do Not Track, then asks:

          [b]Do you wish to permit websites to track your usage?[/b]

          ( ) Yes, allow websites to track me, except those which I explicitly block

          (o) Ask each time a website asks to track me

          ( ) No, do not allow websites to track me, except those which I explicitly allow

          [ Ask me later ] [ Done ]

          The Ask Me Later button would defer the dialogue box until next time the browser is run. Ask me each time would basically present a simple yes/no with a remember check-box, checking that check box would implicitly switch it to the "No, do not allow" option, and then add the site to a whitelist.

          The above could also present itself inside the Internet Options within Internet Explorer, along with a button to modify the list.

          The above probably suggests that it could dovetail quite nicely with Microsoft's proposal, using the list the user generates to turn on/off the Do Not Track header automatically.

          Alas, this is not how they decided to implement it, and so rather than having a conscious decision being made, it is assumed that the user abstained from the decision.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Windows 8 [was No surprise here]

            NO! Like we don't have enough bloody pop-up windows and notification dialogues when first using a new installation of Windows.

            Now, there would an idea - a command that could be entered when installing Windows to the effect of "I've used this operating system, or one like it, before and I'm confident that I can work it out. If not, I'll just ask the internet for tips, I suspect I will have to anyway for troubleshooting info. So please, no sodding balloons"

            Jovial exasperation aside, Mr Longland's suggestion is reasonable.

  11. David Webb

    I installed Windows 8 yesterday... okay, stop laughing at the back.... and you in the middle.... okay and you at the front too........ and the "turn on Do Not Track" was actually there in the set up, MS saying "if you commit these defaults, these will be turned on..." so people would make the informed choice of sticking with the defaults (knowing what they are as they are on view) or changing the defaults, it's no back door entry.

    1. Nick Kew


      So YOU made the choice. You who are techie enough to be reading articles like this, signing up to be tracked by ElReg, making comments here ...

      But what about the average MS user?

      "Huh? What's that about then? OK, better go with the default, or I'll be in no end of trouble when it Doesn't Work".

      Oh hang on, no, the average MS user never installs it, they buy it pre-installed, and take it back to PCWorld (or call the support line) when they have trouble. Would they ever learn of the choice you made?

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Choice?

        I don't know how a pre-installed computer works because I always reformat the disk and replace it with a Technet copy of Windows, or a Linux distro; but I believe you still have to set up a user account, and setting up ie preferences is part of that stage of the installation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nick Kew

        'the average MS user never installs it, they buy it pre-installed'

        Shows how clueless you are. Yes people buy it pre-installed and the first time it is powered on it runs the oobe allowing them to set all their own personal information and settings - including showing them the screen where the DNT settings are decided

        1. David Webb

          Re: Nick Kew

          The choice affects me 0.000%, I don't use IE.... I use Chrome and Kaspersky's adblock function so I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be tracked no matter which browser I use.

          BUT the choice is there, along with other stuff (location services being one) which when an average user looks at them may make them think "hang on a sec, I don't like the sound of these defaults.... I better change them" which in turn means they are going to make an informed choice about keeping DNT turned on (and turning off location based services) which is then going to be ignored by Yahoo!

          As AC pointed out though, the settings are part of the configuration at the start, so even pre-installed will be given the option to change the defaults, it's no big surprise that companies which make their money from adverts, tracking etc. is going to end up ignoring them.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And! We! Will! Ignore! Yahoo! In! Return!

    Easy. Who uses Yahoo! anyway?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: And! We! Will! Ignore! Yahoo! In! Return!

      Ya.... who?

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Isn't this what Microsoft wanted?

    What does seem increasingly plain, however, is that Microsoft's stance on DNT has backfired.

    DNT is such a braindead approach - it depends entirely on advertisers choosing to play along - and Microsoft is effectively exposing this.

    The only effective approach to tracking is that which drove the EU's law on cookies: opt-in only after consumers have been told about the matter and effective sanctions on breaches. Note that the law specifically applies to tracking cookies, session cookies, etc. are generally above suspicion. Personally, I think the law has largely achieved that what it set out to do: shine a light on the extensive abuse of privacy by online advertisers and others.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Isn't this what Microsoft wanted?

      "DNT is such a braindead approach - it depends entirely on advertisers choosing to play along - and Microsoft is effectively exposing this."

      Lucky Microsoft. They've been offered a battleground on which they can, at no loss to themselves, take the side of the little guy against huge, faceless corporations. It's really ironic that advertisers (who claim to be experts in managing consumer perceptions) should have so totally mis-judged how this was going to play out in the court of public opinion.

      Now that they've been handed victory on a plate, expect Microsoft to milk this one for all it is worth. We'll be hearing a *lot* more in the next few months about how the advertisers have reneged on DNT and how valiant MS is the only browser vendor with the guts to enable this vital consumer protection by default.

  14. Keep Refrigerated

    The right way to do it

    What governments should be doing is regulating the sale and movement of personal data. Make 3rd party sharing illegal - or at least illegal to bundle with the offer of a product or service.

    Tax sales of databases, and make it a legal requirement that phone numbers, names and emails must be stripped from the data set.

    If they put in place proper regulations, they wouldn't need to fiddle about with such nonsense as DNT.

    1. Craigness

      Re: The right way to do it

      You're making the assumption that the value is in the data. It's not, it's in the analysis. Web advert publishers have no interest in selling the data; they analyze it and serve the most appropriate advert.

  15. beep54

    Yep, yet another reason to avoid Yahell! altogether. "We don't know what it means" ?!?!? Say what? No means no.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    One more reason to stay away from Yahoo.

    Ms. Meyer should have understood Yahoo need more users - it's not Google - but it looks she didn't. These behaviours will just tell people to stay away from Yahoo as much as they can.

    Let's see what MS will tell Yahoo - isn't their agreeement due to end next March?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ""When a consumer puts Do Not Track in the header, we don't know what they mean.""

    What does he honestly think is meant? Do not bloody well track. Don't aggregate data about me; don't give me tracking cookies and don't bother serving ads because I'm just going to filter them out anyway.

    Surely they have a dictionary between them at Yahoo?

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      You can still serve ads, and the ads can be related to the search keyword. For example, I wanted to hire a van next week, so I went to Google, typed "van hire in [my town]", looked through the Adwords ads for van hire companies, selected one of them, phoned them up and booked the van. I have absolutely no problem with that sort of advertising. But if Google then start telling all the other websites I visit that I'm interested in van hire, then I'm not going to be so happy.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worth pointing out in the article that the guy who committed the change to the Apache project works for Adobe (evil masters of behaviour tracking) and as such his actions do not necessarily reflect the views of the project.

    Also DNT is a weak sham of a standard, as the advertisers can choose to ignore it anyway and they will, because why would they? If you're being tracked currently you don't know about it!

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Well when my gf borrows my iPad, I get a pretty good idea of what sort of shoes she has been looking at it from all the shoe shop ads that appear afterwards.

  19. Sil

    Admen hypocrisy

    In the face of so much hypocrisy Microsoft should patch IE 10 to pop up a window asking if the user wants to opt out or not.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: Admen hypocrisy

      No, MS should fire back another volley, and make a default-on setting that prevents most of the common tracking techniques.

      Personally, I have decided that I like project wonderful's method of using a reverse auction for the space. The winning bid pays for the time it appears, and chooses sites that they think the viewers will find them relevant. No tracking, just "If you read Girl Genius, you might also like my steampunky jewelry."

  20. The Envoy

    The shame in selling things

    OK. So we all know that Yahoo and others on the Internet survive by selling us stuff. So when and where did it become a no-no to say that? Why do you have to talk about "user experience" and such. Dress it up. It's all about selling stuff. From the useful to - mostly - crap. Just like it's always been since the world of commerce took over.

    Experience that.

  21. RW

    More Microsoft "doing favors no one asked for"

    MS could have prevented this brouhaha by simply including setting DNT during installation, requiring the user to respond one way or the other. Yahoo would then have no gripe because the setting would always be derived from the explicit action of the users.

    But, no. Dear Microsoft followed through on their usual bad habit of trying to guess what people want instead of simply asking them. Spare me operating systems that do things for you that way.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: More Microsoft "doing favors no one asked for"

      That's exactly what they did - during setup of your user profile, the question "Do you want evil advertisers to follow your every move on the Internet?" is asked*.

      Oddly enough, the vast majority of users pick "No, I don't."

      * Example only, actual question received may vary. Not to scale.

  22. Demosthenese

    So ask the user

    Hey Mr advertiser why don't you ask the user to change their settings if they visit your site with don't track set? You can explain the advantages of your enhanced experience. Make a good case and people will opt in surely.

  23. Brian

    Yahoo!, you are wrong! Windows8 install ASKS the user is they want DNT on or off. It is selected by default, but the user has an opportunity to change it. This is done during the initial confiuguration, so on a new computer or an upgrade, users are asked.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Maybe Yahoo missed that.

      They were probably expecting a check-box control, like everyone in the known universe has used for yes/no choices for the past 30-odd years, but instead found an almost camouflaged slidey-thing control that takes up more screen space and that no-one has ever seen before.

  24. anoncow1984


    Thanks for the hint. Works with Safari. I feel safer already.

    Did you see the link about Verizon wireless?

    "We're able to view just everything that they do," Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, told an industry conference earlier this year. "And that's really where data is going today. Data is the new oil."

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'M EFFIN' LIVID. Let me get this straight, Microsoft does the right thing, (yes you read that correctly), but because some marketing pond scum want to catch my every click on the internet so they can barrage me with marketing bullshit, Yahoo is going to ignore this setting?

    BTW, thank you EFFIN' MUCH GOOGLE. Because of your craptactularly bad behavior everyone thinks this is normal. Imagine having someone follow you to watch your behavior, where you go watch what you eat. When you eat it. Collect every teeny bit of data. I understand this is Google's wet dream, but I'm sick of marketing.

    In the real world we call this stalking, in cyberspace it's called marketing. I want an EFFIN' off button and I expect everyone to follow the EFFIN' Standard. So why do we even have standards? Seriously, WTF. Shame on everyone for not supporting this effort. It appears the prejudice against Microsoft weighs more than the fact they're doing the right thing and that's BS.

    BTW, Bravo Microsoft.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "on grounds that it does not accurately reflect user intent"

    Cheeky fucking bastards.

    After the years that pathetic organisation has spent, trying to foist its irrelevant, useless and unwanted bloody toolbar as a chunk of parasiteware in other people's installere.

    That just about takes the sodding biscuit

    Yahoo: We KNOW you don't give a shit. Stop pretending otherwise

    1. M Gale

      Re: "on grounds that it does not accurately reflect user intent"


      It's a little like Silverlight. Or Windows.

  27. Dale 3

    In other news...

    ... burglars have announced their intention to ignore "do not rob" signs on people's homes. A police spokesperson said "keeping one's doors locked is more effective than putting up a sign."

  28. John Tserkezis

    Yahoo! will! ignore! 'Do! Not! Track!' from! IE10!

    Why! Am! I! Not! Surprised!?

    There are no laws against ignoring DNT anyway.

    Seriously, how long did you think it was going to take before websites simply ignored it?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Yahoo! will! ignore! 'Do! Not! Track!' from! IE10!

      There are laws that apply to this within the EU, so it will be interesting to see how long this stance lasts once somebody (maybe the French) bring a suit.

      Yes, the cookie law does apply - a website cannot ignore a clear instruction from the browser saying "I reject this".

      The more general privacy laws probably also apply, but those are likely to be more complex to argue.

  29. teacake


    I can sort of see both sides of the argument here.

    On the one hand, organisations and sites which track the user's browser behaviour are utter scum. On the other hand, organisations and sites which track the user's browser behaviour are utter scum.

  30. Pseu Donyme

    Since I didn't see it explicitly mentioned I'd like to register my displeasure with a) the disdainful attitude these US companies have towards EU privacy law, which amounts to b) pushing the US law (lack thereof, really, when it comes to privacy) unto us.

  31. John Munyard


    Seriously does anyone even use Yahoo! anymore? You'd think with them racking up massive losses finding new ways to nark users would be low on thier list of stuff to do.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Yah-boo!

      Not as a search engine. There are still a lot of people who use Yahoo Mail, last time I saw figures, they were the market leader with 26% of the market, just ahead of Hotmail on 25%.

      I use Yahoo Finance for checking share prices, and Flickr to look for photographs.

  32. Jason Hindle

    What is wrong with the existing models?

    I have no problem whatsoever with advertisers tracking me, most of the time. After all, that advertising means a lot of the content I use is free. If I don't want to be tracked, I use my browsers incognito mode, making an informed decision to opt out for a time. For this reason, I've always had an issue with ad blockers and will only use one if my browser is spending too much time waiting for referral sites.

    Am I missing something? MSFT's stance on Do Not Track, in IE, seems a bit OTT to me.

  33. jim 45

    we forgot to say "please"

    Obviously an automatically generated 'request' is going to be ignored by companies like Yahoo. What's next? A national "Do Not Track" registry? We've already jumped through the hoops at the Direct Marketing Association, but the junk mail keeps coming. We need a bigger hammer...

  34. david 12 Silver badge

    Privacy policy.

    Yahoo! has a published privacy policy. They are required by various groups to publish their privacy policy. Their published privacy policy does not mention that they are going to ignore your privacy requests.

    Whatever the justice of their policy, I think that not mentioning it as part of their privacy policy is a weak position.

  35. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    undermining WHAT???

    "Undermining American innovation"

    I think you mean "overmining"...

  36. TeeCee Gold badge

    Oh Yeah?

    "Recently, Microsoft unilaterally decided to turn on DNT in Internet Explorer 10 by default...."

    From previous statements made around these parts, I believe that this is what's known as a "lie"[1].

    IIRC, MS provide a screen at first use prompting the user to set the defaults. The suggested setting for DNT is "yes", but what it actually gets set to is entirely up to the user. I think the real problem here is that they know that they haven't a snowball's chance in hell of selling 'please set this to "no"...' to users.

    Time for the EU to fuck 'em and fuck 'em hard. While they're at it, they could also haul Mozilla over the coals for taking the advertisers' shilling and burying the setting (defaulted to an ad-friendly "off") in the dark recesses of the configuration, rather than prompting for it on first use and allowing the user to make an informed choice.

    [1] Advertisers lie, bears shit in the woods, sun comes up every morning, etc.....

  37. Giles Jones Gold badge

    That's okay as I ignore Yahoo.

  38. sabroni Silver badge

    Force the user to pick

    They should put up a message with no default, make the user choose one or the other. That would definitely be consent, whatever was chosen.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yahoo should be punished for not adhering to standards.

    Consumers know that windows 10 will send DNT and expect that to be respected!

    Yahoo are deliberately ignoring this choice and should be beheaded.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know many people use ad-blocks, but I don't.. why? because advertising is what pays for free services on the web, if no one clicked on ads then every service would be paid for, even the reg!

    Now what we need is to ban intrusive ads like pop-ups and full page ads you need to click past..

    I also suspect people would not be as annoyed about ads if they were for things they were interested in ..

    I know I keep seeing irrelevant adverts all the time and 0% chance I'll click on them.. so targeted ads are so far a failure..

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What! Is! "Yahoo"?!

    can! anyone! enlighten! me! please!

  42. Derichleau

    You can stop all advertising from a UK-based data controller

    The Information Commissioner is of the opinion that all advertising - even generic advertising - appearing within a logged-in website is likely to be directed at an individual and therefore constitutes direct marketing. As such, if you're unhappy with advertising appearing within the logged-in pages of a UK-based website then you can send them a section 11 request to stop. If they fail to remove the adverts then submit a complaint to the ICO.

  43. takuhii

    If this "signal" can be ignored, then what is the point??

This topic is closed for new posts.

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